Newly-promoted side Middlesbrough have made an enquiry to land Borussia Dortmund centre-back Neven Subotic as Stoke City and Sunderland have dampened their interest, according to Daily Mail.
Former Liverpool target Subotic is available for £6.5 million - a transfer fee which Premier League clubs can easily suffice but a major stumbling block remains being able to secure a work permit as the Serbian international has not represented his national team since 2013.
As a result, both clubs managed by Mark Hughes and Sam Allardyce fear the outcome would not be favourable for them, leaving Aitor Karanka's side the lead the race.
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Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund have also granted Subotic leave from their training camp in order to finalise his next destination after he disclosed last month that he was ready to quit after eight years at Signal Iduna Park, as per Sky Sports.
Thomas Tuchel had made the centre-half a fringe player since replacing Klopp last season but his campaign ended prematurely after being diagnosed with thrombosis in his arm last April.
Despite signing a new three-year deal last year, Subotic believes it is the right time in his career to move for a fresh challenge.
German side Cologne also expressed their interest but are unlikely to be able to afford to complete the deal.
DOWN THE PECKING ORDER
The Dortmund ace managed only 11 appearances in the entirety of 2015-16 term. Sokratis Papastathopoulos was preferred to partner Mats Hummels at the heart of defence and the acquisition of Marc Bartra from Barcelona this summer puts his situation in further jeopardy.
The Serbian will be the second departure from the defence line at the German giants after Hummels agreed a deal with Bayern Munich earlier this month.
At 27, Subotic is in the prime of his career and if he remains fit throughout the season, he could be a brilliant signing for whichever Premier League side can secure his signature.