By Greg Stobart | Northern Correspondent
Liverpool are interested in rivalling Tottenham in the race for Brazilian star Leandro Damiao, Goal.com can reveal.
The highly rated Internacional striker has scored a stunning 39 goals in all competitions this season and has attracted the attention of a number of leading clubs in Europe.
Goal.com understands Liverpool representatives have scouted Damiao on at least six occasions this year, while assistant manager Steve Clarke watched the 22-year-old score his first goal for Brazil earlier this month in their 1-0 friendly win over Ghana at Craven Cottage.
The exact level of the Reds' interest is unclear following the signing of Craig Bellamy on the last day of the transfer window, but owners Fenway Sports Group have established a policy of wanting to sign the best young players in world football.
Damiao fits that billing and Kenny Dalglish could be tempted to join a bidding war in the January transfer window, with Internacional expected to cash in on their prized asset.
The Porto Alegre-based club have not had any contact from Liverpool regarding Damiao, who they value at around £20 million having rejected a £16.5m bid from Tottenham in the final days of the summer window.
Spurs are understood to be leading a host of clubs for Damiao's signature having made two bids over the summer for the youngster, who has also attracted interest from the likes of Barcelona, Inter and Porto.
Internacional refused to sell Damiao before the end of the Brazilian domestic season in December after their board of directors was heavily criticised in 2009 by supporters who felt selling Nilmar to Villarreal during the season cost the club the title.
Damiao, who is currently sidelined for six weeks with a hamstring injury, is expected to be the subject of a bidding war in the New Year despite signing a new five-year contract in June.
His Brazil international team-mates – including Liverpool midfielder Lucas and Spurs star Sandro – have been encouraging Damiao to make the switch to a major European league.
“If there is an opportunity to play in Europe, of course I would like it,” Damiao said earlier this month.
Spurs failed to agree a pre-contract deal to sign Damiao but are in pole position because of the advanced nature of the talks this summer and their strategic partnership with Internacional, from whom they signed midfielder Sandro for £8m last summer.
Damiao's economic rights are split, with Internacional owning 70 per cent of the rights and the player owning the other 30%. The forward has not reached the international appearance criteria to automatically qualify for a work permit in England and would need to be granted special dispensation to complete a switch to White Hart Lane or Anfield.