'Klopp had come to see Rodrygo personally' - Liverpool were first to move for Real Madrid star, says agent

Rodrygo Real Madrid 2019-20
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The Brazilian forward is impressing in La Liga, but according to his representative, he could easily have been lighting up the Premier League

Liverpool were the first team to show genuine interest in Rodrygo, and Jurgen Klopp flew to South America when the Brazilian wonderkid was 16, according to the player's agent, Nick Arcuri.

Rodrygo has long been regarded as one of world football's great up-and-coming talents, and this year won Goal's prestigious NxGn award for the most talented male teenage footballer on the planet, an accolade previously claimed by the likes of Jadon Sancho and Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Starting his professional career with Santos in Brazil, Rodrygo was linked to the best clubs in Europe up until he moved to Real Madrid in 2019 after turning 18.

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Among the clubs rumoured to want the player were Liverpool, and now Arcuri has revealed the Reds' interest in Rodrygo went beyond newspaper gossip and admiration from afar.

In a live YouTube chat on Tuesday night, Arcuri said the Premier League side were the first club to officially make a move for the teenager, with their manager Klopp flying to Brazil to meet the talented youngster.

Arcuri said: “When Rodrygo went to sign his first professional contract with Santos, aged 16, a Liverpool director called me saying that Klopp already knew the player, had seen the material, had already come to see Rodrygo personally.

"He had gone on YouTube, searched ‘talents from Brazil’, Rodrygo had appeared and he was very young. He came to Brazil, and liked him.

“They contacted me, the Liverpool director wanted him to be his first signing, Rodrygo. I went to England, sat in London, Liverpool have an office in London. I brought the proposal to Modesto [Roma Junior], then president of Santos.

"Modesto didn’t accept. It turned out that Santos didn’t want to sell Rodrygo and instead made the first professional contract. But it was Rodrygo’s first official proposal, he was 16 and it was Liverpool.”

Eventually Rodrygo moved to Europe, with his destination Spain rather than England, for a reported transfer fee of €45 million (£39m/$49m), although Arcuri claimed that due to taxes in Spain, Real Madrid actually spent a total of €54m (£47m/$59m) to bring the player to Santiago Bernabeu.