Manchester City are preparing to make a £60 million bid for Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling as the England international continues to stall over a new Anfield contract.
Citizens boss Manuel Pellegrini is looking to inject some youth into his first-team squad at the Etihad Stadium, and has identified the 20-year-old star as the man for the job.
According to The Express, City will face stiff competition for Sterling's signature with a host of top European clubs - including Real Madrid and Bayern Munich - also keeping tabs on the Three Lions youngster.
Brendan Rodgers will be determined to keep his most important player on Merseyside, and will be even more reluctant to lose him to a Premier League rival, with the Daily Star reporting last month that Liverpool had warned suitors Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and City against a bid for the in-demand star.
Talk of a buyout clause being inserted into the new deal that Sterling has been negotiating will only apply to foreign clubs, and so they will have to pay huge money to convince the Reds to sanction a sale.
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Jose Mourinho was linked with a shock £48 million bid to bring the wideman to Stamford Bridge back in October, but now City look like offering even more as they look to win the race to secure his services.
Liverpool's early exit from the Champions League could prove decisive in Sterling's thinking moving forward with Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City all progressing to the knockout stages of the competition, along with both of the forward's admirers abroad.
However, with two-and-a-half-years still to run on his existing deal, the Reds still hold all the cards and will not be forced into a sale for anything less than what they believe to be the player's true market value.