Liverpool will go toe to toe with as many as four other clubs in the race to sign Italy Under-21 international Nicolò Barella, according to reports.
The midfielder, who has come through the ranks at hometown side Cagliari Calcio, is one of the hottest prospects in the Serie A, and many fans believe that I Rossoblu will have to sell Barella this summer despite his commitment to the club.
A number of clubs from Italy are eager to snap up the youngster, although he is also said to be attracting interest from Liverpool, Olympique Lyonnais and Atlético Madrid, and La Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Francesco Velluzzi believes the time is right for Cagliari to cash in.
“[Cagliari] has understood that it may be the right year to sell him,” Velluzzi told RMC Sport. “He was very professional, even if he has not opened his mouth so far, it means that he wants to understand how the situation will be defined.
“Inter currently does not have an urgent need to try to buy Barella, unless they sell [Matias] Vecino.
“There is also Roma at stake, there are also Lyon, Liverpool and perhaps Atlético Madrid.”
Liverpool could be tempted to test the waters with an opening offer following their failed pursuit of Lyon star Nabil Fekir, with Barella set to become the club’s record departure – eclipsing the £16m that Roma paid for French defender Jonathan Zebina almost 20 years ago.
Barella has already made an impressive 65 appearances in the top flight of Italian football, scoring six goals and claiming one assist.