Southampton left-back Luke Shaw has made a big impression in recent times. After establishing himself as a regular at St Mary's last season, he has enhanced his reputation further after another fine campaign this term. At 18, he's the stand-out young defender in the Premier League.
Manchester City will no doubt be assessing his form between now and the next transfer window. City need a left-back, and Shaw's status as a "homegrown" player will particularly appeal given they look set to fall short of the quota requirements with Micah Richards, Joleon Lescott and Dedryck Boyata looking set to leave this summer.
The form of Gael Clichy, City's first-choice left-back for much of last season, has been a huge concern since Manuel Pellegrini's arrival. While most other players in the squad have improved under the Chilean, Clichy looks a shadow of the player who excelled during the second half of last season and earned a richly-deserved contract extension in the summer.
He looks a yard slower and much less confident at the moment, and he will be keen to improve his form to regain supremacy over Aleksandar Kolarov—who has arguably emerged as Pellegrini's favoured left-back. However, despite his obvious improvement, Kolarov still lacks defensive nous.
In short, City are somewhat weaker at left-back than most other areas, and Txiki Begiristain will no doubt be identifying a list of potential targets for Pellegrini to mull over ahead of an approach in the summer.
Shaw is an exceptional prospect. He was called up to the England squad in February for the game against Denmark, playing the second-half. England manager Roy Hodgson said before his call up (via the Mirror):
Anyone who's watched Luke play recently will not deny he's worth his place.
He's played extremely well and he's a very exciting talent. I've seen him with the Under-21s and thought it was the right moment to invite him along.
Luke's a player in a position where we're very well off but he wants to compete with the other two for a place on the plane to Brazil. I thought it was the right time to bring him in and let him show what he can do.
He can't earn his place on 90 minutes against Denmark but I hope he does well and corroborates what we think - that he is a good player and capable of playing for England.
He's superb going forward and incredibly comfortable in possession, always wanting the ball and willing to take responsibility. For a player of his age, he has demonstrated extreme maturity during the last two seasons, and is undoubtedly the outstanding young defensive prospect in the country.
The problem City face is that Chelsea—Shaw's boyhood team—are also in need of a left-back to replace the ageing Ashley Cole, and if they end up making a firm bid the lure of playing for the club he supported as a youngster may prove too tempting to turn down.
The form of Cesar Azpilicueta, though, means Shaw wouldn't be a guaranteed starter at Stamford Bridge, with City far more likely to give him games. If they can enter into negotiations with the player, the club will feel confident of selling him an attractive vision of his role in the side.
Expect this story to gather pace once the window reopens in the summer.
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here: @RobPollard_.