Liverpool in Spanish fight for former Madrid starlet

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Liverpool face competition in the race to sign Mainz striker Adam Szalai.

The Hungarian international, who has a strike-rate of four goals in five games for his country, is thought to be wanted by a string of clubs in January. Liverpool are one of the parties said to be interested.

However, reports in Spain claim that Real Madrid have first option on the player, who has already spent time at the Bernabeu club.

Szalai joined the La Liga giants from Stuttgart in 2007 for a fee in the region of €500 000, but never made a senior appearance for Los Blancos.

During his three years in the Spanish capital, the striker made 71 appearances for the Castilla side, but left for Mainz on loan in 2009 before signing permanently in June this year.

TalkSPORT revealed in October that Reds boss Roy Hodgson was keen on the striker, with a £4 million mooted by the British radio station. Madrid are thought to have a £1.3 million buy-back clause in the player's Bundesliga contract though, news that could scupper Liverpool plans to sign the 22-year-old.

Hodgson has been linked with a string of strikers in recent weeks, with Vagner Love, Peter Crouch and Carlton Cole all reportedly on the Liverpool radar.

The former Fulham boss is keen to find a strike partner for Spaniard Fernando Torres, whose early-season injury problems exposed a relatively thread-bare Liverpool front-line.

New owners NESV have promised Hodgson money to spend in the opening month of 2011, and Szalai could be one of the attacking options chased by Liverpool should Madrid not follow-up on their opportunity to sign the player.

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