Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is willing to pay £7 million for the services of Charlton Athletic youngster Joe Gomez after identifying the Championship starlet as the man to replace soon-to-be-departing Sebastian Coates at Anfield next season.
According to the Daily Mirror, the 18-year-old defender - who is also attracting transfer interest from Premier League rivals Arsenal - is set to leave The Valley before the start of the new season after receiving admiring glances from a host of different top-flight suitors.
The England U19 international has only made 21 senior appearances for The Addicks so far, but appears to have done enough to earn himself a big-money move to the top division, with the Reds ready to meet the south east Londoners valuation.
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With Coates set to join Sunderland during the transfer window Rodgers needs a defensive recruit and thinks the versatile centre-back is up to the job after receiving glowing scouting reports from Merseyside officials.
However, Liverpool could face competition for Gomez's signature from the Gunners if Arsene Wenger decides to firm up his alleged interest by making a rival offer to take the player to the Emirates Stadium.
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The talented teenager made a big impression under the guidance of Guy Luzon in 2014/15 and is regarded by many as one of the country's brightest young talents. However, he needs to continue playing regular first-team football in order to avoid stalling his development.
With that in mind a move to Aston Villa might be perceived as the best option for Gomez, particularly given Tim Sherwood's tendency to place great faith in up and coming stars of the future by providing a clear pathway straight into the senior team.
Wenger and Rodgers both have good reputations when it comes to the nurturing of burgeoning young talent, but given the stronger competition for places in their respective squads, a switch to Villa Park could be the best next step in the player's career.
Where do you think Joe Gomez will be playing his football next season? Will it be Liverpool, Arsenal or Aston Villa - or indeed somewhere else? Leave a prediction in the comment box below...
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