Report: Liverpool tracked star from age of 15, watched him play 24 times before signing him

The Reds had apparently been watching Roberto Firmino since he was a teenager in his native Brazil,

Liverpool first showed interest in forward Roberto Firmino when the Brazilian was just 15 years old, and watched him play in person 24 times before eventually securing his signature, according to the Daily Express.

Firmino became the Reds' third-most expensive signing of all time when he joined for just under £30 million from german side Hoffenheim last summer.

After initially struggling to settle, scoring just once in his first 24 games for the club, the 24-year-old finally appears to have found his feet at Anfield and has netted eight times in 2016, including strikes in each of his last three appearances.

However, it appears as though the club could have saved themselves such a hefty transfer fee had they been able to secure a work permit to sign the attacker earlier in his career.

According to the Express, Liverpool first showed interest in bringing the player to Merseyside when he was a 15-year-old playing for Figueirense in his home country.

The paper claims that the club were initially sceptical about Firmino because of his under-developed body at that age, but after seeing him mature and grow during his time at Germany they became convinced of his ability.

They allegedly began to scout him closely three years ago, and watched him in matches and training sessions 24 times before being able to secure a deal after a change in work permit rules.

Under Jurgen Klopp's management Firmino has moved from potential Anfield flop to a key player in the Reds' frontline, and he will be hoping to continue his recent run of good form in the Europa League last-16 second leg against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Thursday night.

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