Liverpool have pushed ahead of Premier League rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur in the race for Belgium's World Cup wonderkid Divock Origi by offering terms which will allow Lille to keep the forward on an loan next season, according to The Times.
Origi has used a pair of impressive cameos from the bench for Belgium at this summer's South American showpiece to underline his credentials as one of Europe's most exciting young forwards, possessing raw pace, power and dynamism that has three Premier League clubs all monitoring his progress with particular interest.
Reds boss Brendan Rodgers is the first to make a concrete offer for the £6m-rated hitman though and wants an agreement over his future signed quickly as he bids to continue a pro-active start to the summer transfer window.
Third piece of the puzzle
Reds fans will now no doubt be keen observers for the rest of Belgium's World Cup campaign and in particular tonight's final Group H clash with South Korea, a match in which Red Devils coach Marc Wilmots is expected to give Origi his first start of the tournament ahead of Romelu Lukaku.
The Chelsea striker has struggled to make any kind of positive impact at the head of Belgium's attack in narrow victories over both Algeria and Russia, matches in which Origi emerged from the bench as a brilliant impact substitute, scoring the winner against Fabio Capello's side with just minutes left of normal time.
Arsenal and Spurs were hoping to close a deal which would allow Origi to perform the same squad role and continue his development in England, like so many of Belgium's current squad, but Liverpool are prepared to wait and that could be the clincher during negotiations.
Rodgers eyes a long-term investment
Liverpool believe Origi's development will be best served by another season in France even if they close a permanent deal, with Lille playing the exciting youngster 35 times last year and prepared to offer first-team opportunities for next season that he simply wouldn't get at Anfield.
The Reds have already secured veteran striker Rickie Lambert on a two-year contract and have Fabio Borini back after a season at Sunderland, which means barring any surprise exit for Luis Suarez the club are fully stocked in terms of forwards for next season.
Origi would be expected to begin his Liverpool during the 2015/16 campaign, giving his 12 months to make further strides and turn his raw potential into consistent performances in Ligue 1.
Deal far from done
Despite being very much in the driving seat to secure Origi's signature Liverpool will have to play a frustrating waiting game while the World Cup continues, with the youngster refusing to make a concrete decision on his future until the tournament is over.
That gives Spurs and Arsenal some breathing room in terms of putting a different offer on the table, but Lille are thought to be receptive to the idea of keeping their most promising starlet for a Champions League push next season and for that reason the Reds look on course to complete summer signing number three in due course.