Liverpool Transfer News: Benfica Star Rodrigo Emerges as Major Reds Target

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistMarch 18, 2014

Benfica's Rodrigo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during their Portuguese league soccer match with Porto, at Benfica's Luz stadium in Lisbon, Sunday, Jan. 12 2014. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Armando Franca/Associated Press

Brendan Rodgers is hoping to bring Benfica's Rodrigo back to the Premier League this summer, with the Liverpool boss reportedly viewing the attacker as a priority target.

However, The Mirror's James Nursey suggests that the Reds will need to stump up a fee of £25 million in order to secure the services of the Brazil-born striker.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12:  Manager Brendan Rodgers of liverpool looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Liverpool at Craven Cottage on February 12, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

The 23-year-old spent the 2010-11 season on loan with Bolton Wanderers, then in the English top flight, just after making the switch from Real Madrid's Castilla academy.

It won't be easy to land Rodrigo's signature, though. Despite already being tied to the Portuguese giants until 2015 at the time, Rodrigo signed a four-year contract extension in August 2012, ensuring that he'll remain at the club until 2019.

Such a commitment not only reveals the faith Benfica have in their starlet, but just how fond Rodrigo is of his current surroundings too.

It is worth pointing out, though, that as of January 2014, Rodrigo's economic rights are 100 percent owned by a third party, as confirmed by The Sunday Times' Duncan Castles:

South American football writer Rupert Fryer makes sure to note how efficient Benfica have been in hanging on to the attacker:

According to Transfermarkt, Rodrigo has scored 24 Liga Primeira goals in 40 league starts for the Eagles, eight of which he's grabbed in the 2013-14 campaign.

The forward has impressed as part of several Spanish youth teams, first featuring for his adopted nation's Under-19 side before making the eventual step up to his current level with the Under-23 squad.

Rodrigo has been prolific internationally, scoring 11 goals in just nine matches on the way to qualifying for the 2013 European Under-21 Championship.

Liverpool's interest in the player isn't too surprising given how highly rated Rodrigo is, but one might question the Merseysiders' need for another central attacking figure.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28:  Daniel Sturridge (R) of Liverpool is congratulated by teammate Luis Suarez (L) after scoring his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on January 28, 2014 in L
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have developed an extremely prolific scoring partnership over the past year or so, making it difficult to imagine where another high-profile name would fit in.

Back-up is needed, but £25 million is a lot to pay for a substitute attacker.

Rodrigo could play alongside the deadly duo, but that would restrict the progress of Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho at the club.

Squawka compares the scoring rates of Sturridge and Suarez (SAS) to Manchester United's less fruitful Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie:

Rodrigo's talents would be slightly wasted were he to be pushed out wide, while sending one of Sturridge or Suarez to the flanks on a more permanent basis isn't something that those at Anfield will be too fond of envisioning either.

In any case, Rodrigo's addition would certainly go some way to displaying the kind of intent Liverpool have in pursuit of evolving as a club, with some promising firepower in their sights this summer.