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Liverpool lining up more big-money names to join Firmino

By Ian Herbert

Published 25/06/2015

New arrival: Liverpool have snapped up forward Roberto Firmino from Hoffenheim
New arrival: Liverpool have snapped up forward Roberto Firmino from Hoffenheim

Liverpool are prepared to add further attacking reinforcements for next season, despite the rapid deal which, at a fee of £22m rising to £29m, has made Roberto Firmino the second most expensive acquisition in the club's history.

The Reds also have Seville's £20m Colombian Carlos Bacca and Zenit St Petersburg's Venezuelan Salomon Rondon under consideration and though not close to signing either, they will move for another forward if - as seems highly likely - the pursuit of Aston Villa's Christian Benteke falls through.

The Liverpool managing director, Ian Ayre, is staying at the Copa America in Chile for an additional day, having flown out to tie up the Firmino deal, and is in position to progress moves for additional attacking options. Villa have been implacably unwilling to soften on Benteke's £32.5m release clause. Liverpool will simply not buy for that price, meaning the pursuit of the Belgian appears to be over.

Liverpool's readiness to add what would be a ninth attacking option to Brendan Rodgers' squad suggests the club believe they will lose Raheem Sterling - with a third Man City bid expected any time, taking the offer close to the £50m asking price.

The Anfield club may look beyond Bacca and Rondon for further attacking options. Real Madrid are expecting Liverpool's interest in Denis Cheryshev, a Russian winger who spent last season on loan at Villarreal, to firm up if they do lose Sterling.

There are impediments to either a Bacca or Rondon signing. Seville will not stand in the way of Bacca's sale, though Liverpool are aware they are dealing with another release clause - £21m in his case.

The 28-year-old, who is the more mobile of the two, was expected to be the first Seville player to leave this summer but the club qualified for the Champions League by winning the Europa League last month.

Firmino has been signed on a five-year deal from Bundesliga club Hoffenheim after rapid negotiations concluded by Ayre.

He risked another of the public setbacks which Liverpool have experienced in the transfer market when he flew to Santiago, via Paris, on Monday evening but has concluded all the formalities. All that remains is a medical, which will be taken when the forward has finished his duties at the Copa America with Brazil.

Meanwhile, departing Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has pin-pointed his omission against Real Madrid in the Champions League as the moment he decided it was time to leave.

The 35-year-old had already been told by boss Brendan Rodgers that his game-time would be managed but the midfielder was desperate to play against the defending European champions at the Bernabeu.

However, he had to settle for a 21-minute substitute appearance and it was the pivotal moment in ending his 27-year association with the club.

"It was Real and I wanted to play," he said. "When I was told I wasn't playing for the sake of the team, because of my relationship with Brendan I accepted it.

"But I sat on that bench devastated because I wanted to play. It pushed me into making a decision to move on and try something different."

That turned out to be a new challenge with LA Galaxy in Major League Soccer.

Gerrard won every major honour with the Reds except the league title and their near miss two seasons ago and the part he played in it still hangs heavy.

His stumble helped Chelsea on the way to a 2-0 win at Anfield which derailed their championship run.

"The slip happened at a bad time, it was cruel for me personally," he added.

"There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about if that hadn't happened. The impact it had kills me, don't get me wrong. Inside it kills me and it will do for a long time."

Belfast Telegraph

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