Schalke admit interest in Liverpool target - is he a replacement for Draxler?

Schalke boss Jens Keller has admitted that the club are interested in bringing Hoffenheim playmaker Roberto Firmino to the club.

Firmino, 22, arrived in Germany from Figueirense back in 2011, having produced a number of fine displays as a teenager back in Brazil, and Hoffenheim saw his potential and decided to bring him to Europe. Their decision looks to be an inspired one, as the attacking midfielder has now struck 28 goals in just 99 games for the Bundesliga side, including an impressive 13 this season.

With 10 assists to his name as well, the playmaker has unsurprisingly attracted interest from around Europe as teams look to add his dribbling and skill to their midfield - which is exactly what it seems Liverpool are interested in doing, as they have been credited with an interest in pairing Firmino with his compatriot Philippe Coutinho at Anfield.

But their potential plans to bring Firmino to Merseyside could have taken a hit after Schalke manager Keller admitted to being a huge fan of the Hoffenheim star, and believes the Brazilian would be a valuable addition for the Gelsenkirchen side, who sit third in the Bundesliga.

"Firmino is a good player and could help us", Keller told Bild. "He is a player of great quality and would certainly be interesting."

The news that Schalke are interested in taking Firmino away from their Bundesliga rivals could suggest that the club are preparing for the departure of starlet Julian Draxler, who has been attracting interest from Bayern Munich and most notably Arsenal in recent months.

Bayer Leverkusen winger Sidney Sam has already agreed a move to the Veltins Arena at the end of the season, so pursuing another attack-minded midfielder could hint at the possible exit of Draxler, who was seemingly close to a £37m switch to the Emirates Stadium in January. Schalke's pursuit of Firmino would be seen as bad news for Liverpool, but it could spell better news for their title rivals as the summer transfer window draws ever closer.

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