Manchester United's hopes of signing Saido Berahino next summer have been dealt a blow after Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers stepped up plans to lure the West Bromwich Albion striker to Anfield in January.
The Daily Star reports that the Reds boss has identified the recently called up England international as the man to solve his current crisis in attack, following news that Daniel Sturridge will not play again this calendar year.
Sturridge suffered a second thigh injury on the first day of training following his comeback from a calf problem, and with Mario Balotelli struggling for form Liverpool's front line has been significantly blunted.
Rodgers's apparent reluctance to give too many minutes to Rickie Lambert looks like forcing the Northern Irishman back into the transfer market at the turn of the year, and he's got his sights set on the Baggies' in-form marksman.
Berahino is currently the highest scoring Englishman in the Premier League with seven goals already to his name in 2014/15. That impressive return prompted inclusion in Roy Hodgson's most recent Three Lions squad, although the 21-year-old is still waiting for his senior debut.
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The youngster's performances at The Hawthorns this term has attracted attention from Louis van Gaal, who was particularly impressed by Berahino when West Brom came to Old Trafford earlier this season.
However, the Red Devils boss hadn't planned to make his move for the £15 million-rated star until the end of the season, by which time it could be too late if Liverpool submit a bid in the mid-season window.
Alan Irvine has made clear his reluctance to part with Berahino in January, but with the player yet to agree an extension to his current contract they might struggle to turn down a lucrative offer if received in 2015.