Why Liverpool have Football Manager game to thank for signing of Roberto Firmino

The uber-popular management sim hires real-life scouts to work for its huge player database, and clubs are now using it themselves to scout players after a deal between FM creators Sports Interactive and sports performance analyst Prozone was struck.

And a Hoffenheim director of football has told of how he was scouring the divisions of Brazil on Football Manager when they happened on an unknown forward called Firmino.

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Lutz Pfannenstiel is the director of football for the German side who spotted the talent of a young Firmino on Football Manager, which rates attributes out of 20.

After seeing the potential talent of the in-game Firmino, Pfannenstiel moved to tie the deal up in real life, and the young Brazilian was bought for around £3.5m in 2011 before being sold for close to £30m in 2015 to the Reds.

Pfannenstiel told talkSport’s Paul Hawksebee that playing the game led directly to signing the unknown youngster.

Asked about how the signing of Firmino came to fruition, he said: “If you’re getting a guy from the second league in Brazil, [he is] only 17 18 years old. [We paid] £3.5m for him, roughly.

“Straight away people think he needs to play in the first team directly. So people were saying you have paid that amount for a player who hasn’t made it yet.

“In the end we sold him for €42m plus [future] payments, so in the end I think we did it right.

“I think it’s good scouting, definitely.”

Firmino has since developed into a fully-fledged Brazil international who leads the line for a team that has risen to the top of the Premier League.

The 25-year-old has netted five time for the Reds so far this term and is keeping striker Daniel Sturridge on the sidelines.

The Brazil star arrived back on Merseyside on Thursday after the international break, and could form part of the substitutes’ bench when the Reds visit Southampton on Saturday.