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Why Liverpool, Man City are preparing offers for Bologna dazzler Gaston Ramirez

There's more behind Liverpool's pursuit of Gaston Ramirez than just his Uruguayan passport.

Sure, Luis Suarez's impact may have had an influence on the thinking of Liverpool football chief Damien Comolli. But there's more to his push to land the Bologna winger than just the chance to add to their growing Uruguayan contingent.

Comolli isn't alone in his admiration for 20 year-old Ramirez. Since the end of last season, the attacking midfielder has attracted enquiries from Villarreal, Fiorentina and Napoli, while Udinese openly discussed the prospect of signing him as a replacement for the Barcelona-bound Alexis Sanchez.

But as the speculation swirled around him - often fueled by his agents in Italy and Uruguay - Ramirez never complained, nor demanded anything from Bologna management. Just as he did with his shock omission from Uruguay's World Cup squad last year, Ramirez simply kept his head down and focused on his football.

Given his modest (by European football standards) €220,000 salary, who would blame him for being dazzled by the numbers being bandied about - particularly when Manchester City were mentioned as a suitor in July?

But while Ramirez did talk about moving "to a bigger level" at the height of talk over City's €10 million pursuit, the midfielder later insisted he only wanted to stay and play well for Bologna.

At 20 and having been raised in the tiny coast town of Fray Bentos, Ramirez, a favourite at Penarol for his dazzling wing play, is still enjoying his career with wide-eyed optimism.

"Moving to Penarol I thought was the pinnacle," he recalled, "but now playing in Italy is unbelievable to me. I have worked hard to get here, I know that. And I also know I need to keep working hard to continue my progress.

"Penarol was fantastic for me, very special. But I have been welcomed very well by Bologna and the fans. This has helped me to adapt - even if the weather takes some getting used to! I have never experienced games being called off because of snow. It's something different!"

It's not only the weather and the language Ramirez has had to adjust to - the midfielder admits he's also had to change his game to suit Serie A.

"At Penarol and in Uruguay I liked to play with the ball. I always want to run with it. But here, I've been told to release it sooner. I have to follow these instructions, otherwise I'll lose my place. I now have to fight harder to play, it can be ruthless. You need to forget about others and focus on yourself so to stay in the coach's thoughts.

"The football here is very tactical. It's tighter, but also more dynamic. For 30-40 minutes its closed, but then things open up and you need to attack with quick play, one touch passing, trying to open up the defence. It's very different to what I was used to in Uruguay."

He added: "I am calm. I am happy here. It's quiet where I live. Obviously the football is exciting, but having a nice area to live is also helpful."

For all his commitment, Ramirez will be sold next year - possibly as soon as January. His agent, Vincenzo D'Ippolito, admits there's no way back for Bologna and the decision has been made.

D'Ippolito has been pushing for a new contract for the youngster, but Bologna is in no financial position to match what rivals have tabled.

"We must talk with the leaders of Bologna. Between January and June, the guy will leave and there's not much Bologna can do, the club already knows this," confessed D'Ippolito.

"When a boy of 20 years of age, who has done very well in Bologna, has important offers, he aims to go to clubs that will compete at the top of the table. He's liked by many teams in Italy, the first five to six in the league would take him for sure."

With bottom line still a concern for the Bologna board, it's likely Ramirez will be sold to the highest bidder. D'Ippolito may be convinced of a move within Serie A for his latest star client, but if Ramirez continues his progress leading up to the New Year, expect Comolli - and possibly Roberto Mancini - to pull the trigger on major offers for the exciting winger.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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