Liverpool have intensified their interest in Lazio forward Keita Balde Diao having sent scouts to watch over the former Barcelona starlet.
The Catalan born youngster of Senegalese descent signed for the Serie A club in 2011 for a modest fee of just €300k, despite reportedly being highly rated by La Masia coaches as he progressed through Barca's revered youth academy.
However in 2010 Diao fell out with the La Liga giants during a youth team tour in Qatar when the then 15-year-old left ice cubes in a teammates bed, earning him the wrath of his no nonsense club who immediately shipped the youngster out to one of Barcelona's satellite clubs Cornella.
After scoring 47 at the small Catalan club, Diao swiftly attracted the attention of Real Madrid and Manchester United, prompting Barcelona to offer their prankster a contract. But it was Lazio who would secure the youngster on a long term basis, convincing Diao to swap Barcelona for Rome at 16.
After finally making his first team debut for the Rome club this season, interest from the Premier League has returned through Liverpool, who according to the Daily Express dispatched scouts to watch over the 18-year-old's performance in their opening Europa League win over Legia Warsaw.
In what was just his second full appearance for the club Diao gave Liverpool something to think about as he provided what proved to be the game's deciding goal for teammate Hernanes in a 1-0 victory.
Having waited one year for Diao to earn an EU passport and an additional season for him to adjust in Lazio's Primavera youth ranks, the Serie A club will be desperate to hold onto the talented youngster for at least one season.
In what could prove to be an added stumbling block, Lazio manager Vladimir Petkovic holds the youngster in high regard, having called him up to the first team squad during the latter stages of last season.
Diao is contracted to the Italian side until 2015 with an option to extend that deal to 2017, but Liverpool may be tempted to make their reported interest formal in January should his rise continue.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has indicated his is looking to secure further signings when the January transfer window opens, with additional attackers perhaps in his plans.
"We have to make sure we stay up in the top six in the league and keep fighting. Hopefully we can reinforce again in January."
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