Roberto Firmino
Roberto Firmino became Liverpool's fifth signing of the summer. (Getty)

On Wednesday (24 June) Liverpool confirmed their most significant piece of summer transfer business to date, announcing the signing of 23-year-old Roberto Firmino from Hoffenheim, pending a medical.

The fee for the player, as reported by BBC Sport and a number of other outlets, is £29m (€40.8m), the club's second largest outlay for a player in its history behind the colossal £35m left in Newcastle United's bank account for Andy Carroll in 2012.

After three free transfers and the arrival of 18-year-old Joe Gomez from Charlton Athletic, this signing represents the sort of business Liverpool fans have been crying out for since the conclusion of their fairly dismal 2014-15 season. You can argue it is the sort of signing the club have should have made one year ago, when Luis Suarez left Merseyside to sign for Barcelona.

Liverpool supporters who were idly keeping an eye on the Copa America in Chile can now use it as the perfect opportunity to follow heir latest signing. With Neymar suspended for the rest of the tournament, Firmino will be expected to help fill the void left by the Selecao captain and add to his tally of four goals in nine appearances for his country.

Firmino has been one of the Bundesliga's best-kept secrets. Hoffenheim, whose first season as a professional side came just eight years ago, plucked the forward from relative obscurity in 2010, bringing him to Germany from Brazilian outfit Figueirense. As the case is with the majority of South American footballers, it took time for him to fully adapt to European football but he repaid Hoffenheim's faith with a blistering 2013-14 season, contributing 23 goals and 21 assists.

Last season's contribution dropped off slightly but a haul of seven goals and 10 assists – the latter of which was league's third best contribution – is not to be sniffed at.

As his stats suggest, the Brazilian operated as a classic no. 10 in Germany, but was often equally effective in wider roles. For his country, Brazil manager Dunga deploys him as a false nine, something Brendan Rodgers may choose to replicate given Daniel Sturridge's absence at the start of the new season.

Firmino doesn't possess the blistering pace of Raheem Sterling, which suggests he shouldn't be recognised as a direct replacement for the England international, who remains linked with a move away from Anfield. His arrival will however raise questions of how Rodgers will include both him and Philippe Coutinho, who made the no. 10 role his own last season, in the same starting XI. But with the Liverpool boss a strong advocate for multi-functional players, the Brazilian brings real incision and craft to the Liverpool attacking third. At a glance, Firmino could be a perfect candidate for the central role Rodgers was so desperate for Sterling to embrace last season.

Perhaps just as importantly for Liverpool supporters; have their club beaten Manchester United in the race for the forward's signature? A PR battle of sorts erupted after United confirmed a deal for Dutch winger Memphis Depay, with Brendan Rodgers denying his club ever had any interest in the player, a claim disputed by PSV sporting director Marcel Brands.

Just last week, reports were rampant suggesting United had struck a deal with Hoffenheim for the player for a fee reported to be £13.1m. While Firmino's agent Roger Witterman suggested a Premier League side had lodged a bid following those reports, there was no suggestion from him that it came from Old Trafford.

None of that really matters now, though. Liverpool have made their first real statement ahead of the new season and Rodgers and Fenway Sports Group will be hoping he can help bridge the gap between the club and the Premier League elite.