Preston North End midfielder Adam Barton will become the subject of a summer transfer tussle between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool according to local paper the Express & Star.
The 20-year-old starlet has been in fine form for the Championship relegation strugglers this season and has attracted the attention of a number of scouts across England.
Best described as a ball-playing midfielder, Barton has made 32 appearances for Preston this campaign and has been valued in the region of £5million, though Kenny Dalglish would be looking for a significantly lower deal.
The Daily Mirror linked the promising youngster with a January move to Anfield, amidst widespread speculation that Liverpool had been plotting raids on several youngsters in a bid to return to their old philosophy of grooming up-and-coming talent.
However, with no bid forthcoming Wolves manager Mick McCarthy has been tracking Barton, and was seen at Deepdale last Tuesday where he was thought to be running the rule over the player during Preston’s league encounter with Reading.
Liverpool assistant manager Sammy Lee has also been spotted at a number of North End matches this season, both before and after the January transfer window which would suggest that the Reds interest still remains.
According to the Daily Mail, the former Blackburn trainee, who has been capped by Northern Ireland, would welcome a move to the Barclays Premier League, though it is unclear at this stage whether Liverpool or Wolves is a more appealing option.
With Preston’s Championship status still in doubt, it is unlikely they will be able to keep hold of one of their most promising stars, and the £5million figure may also be hard to come by.
Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli is rumoured to be ironing out a deal that will see a smaller lump sum, with additional add-ons and bonuses based on his progression into the first team.
Having been linked with a number of marquee signings since the Fenway Sport Group takeover, Liverpool fans will likely be underwhelmed by this latest transfer rumour, but the move will represent one that looks towards the long-term future of the club.