Manchester City are preparing to battle reigning league champions Manchester United for the services of two of England's brightest young hopes.
Paul Hetherington of the Daily Star reports that City will attempt to sign Southampton full-back Luke Shaw and Everton's Ross Barkley, with £50 million set aside for their captures.
As United boss David Moyes looks to rebuild his flagging squad, City manager Manuel Pellegrini is looking to increase his swell of English talent in his ranks.
Premier League squads must include eight English players in their 25-man pool, and City might struggle next season if they lose specific employees.
City could lose some they already have, like defender Micah Richards, who didn’t even make the bench for the Capital One Cup Final.
Midfielder Jack Rodwell, who may return to Everton on a season’s loan, is another one.
Gareth Barry, already on a temporary transfer to Everton, is unlikely to be back at The Etihad next season and fellow England international Joleon Lescott has already said he will be leaving.
City did not have one British player in their startling line-up at Wembley last Sunday.
Anthony Chapman of the Express also confirms United's interest in Shaw, and that of Southampton's captain Adam Lallana.
He explains that with the futures of Ashley Young, Nani and Shinji Kagawa in doubt, Lallana could be recruited to fill the void.
Chapman also says Moyes is reluctant to offer Southampton more than £30 million for the duo, but the south-coast club will not budge for anything less than £40 million.
Shaw has been one of the true sensations of this year, having played 26 times in the Premier League this season, per Squawka. He also recently made his England debut against Denmark and could be a surprise addition in Roy Hodgson's final World Cup squad.
United centre-back Rio Ferdinand commented about Shaw during his debut for England. He tweeted:
Go on Luke Shaw....what a feeling a debut for ya country is.....proud moment for you, the family & friends. Great prospect— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) March 5, 2014
Like Shaw, this has been Barkley's true breakthrough season at Everton, despite already boasting a great reputation in the youth and reserve ranks.
He has accumulated 24 appearances in the league this term, scoring three times, per Squawka.
Barkley's box-to-box style is something United need, perhaps more than City. With Yaya Toure pulling the strings, it is difficult to say where he would fit in under Pellegrini.
At United, Barkley would be straight into the starting XI, but as we have seen with Rodwell, he might struggle at the Etihad.
As Patrice Evra's time at United comes to an end, Moyes' need to recruit a long-term replacement is of paramount importance. Despite his young age, Shaw is the best English left-back to emerge since Ashley Cole in his Arsenal days, and to acquire him now would be logical.
His price will be extortionate, but you only have to look at the career progression of fellow Southampton graduate Gareth Bale, who fetched Tottenham a world-record transfer fee.
Can Luke Shaw become as good as Gareth Bale?
Bale had potential as a full-back and this position appeared to be his future at one time. However, his devastating form in the final third saw him pushed up the pitch, eventually becoming the most expensive player in the history of the game.
Shaw has similar potential and, whatever the price, United could be signing a player with unlimited potential.
But City will also see this, and with their wealth and strategy a player like Shaw fits in with how they want to proceed as a team in the coming years.
Shaw would grow hugely at either club, and if he becomes anything like the player that Bale has he will become one of the superstars of world football.