Liverpool have stepped up their chase for midfield reinforcements by making a formal transfer enquiry to Bayer Leverkusen for German youth international Emre Can, according to the Daily Star.
Reds boss Brendan Rodgers has identified Can as a player capable of providing versatile cover in central midfield, after a strong Bundesliga campaign in his first season with Leverkusen.
The 20-year-old helped Leverkusen survive a rocky period which spelled the end for ex-Reds defender Sami Hyypia as coach to qualify for the Champions League, making 39 appearances in all competitions, largely in a defensive midfield role.
Rodgers is hoping Leverkusen will be willing to part with an exciting starlet after just one season at the BayArena, but must be wary of a buy-back clause inserted in his current contract by former club Bayern Munich.
The Bundesliga champions allowed Can to move on last summer in a surprise permanent switch, with Pep Guardiola deciding not to stand in the youngster's way as he searched for regular first-team football at a crucial stage of his fledging career.
Guardiola has the right to match any exit offer Leverkusen receive until 2017, but with Bayern's vast array of midfield options Liverpool are confident that they are chasing an attainable transfer target.
Adam Lallana is also on Liverpool's radar and the Reds are desperate to move swiftly to build a squad that can successfully fight on two fronts next season, with a return to the Champions League secured after a fantastic domestic campaign.
Can fits that bill in terms of room for improvement and an ability to play in three different positions including left-back, but Leverkusen are yet to respond to a tentative first enquiry in what could be one of the summer's most protracted transfer negotiations.