Liverpool have shown some impressive initiative in their pledge to recruit world-class talent this summer and are reported to have taken the lead in the race to sign Sporting Lisbon star William Carvalho.
The Portuguese giants are seeking a fee of £30 million for the midfield anchor, according to the Daily Star's Jamie Anderson, who reports that David Moyes' departure from Old Trafford has meant the Red Devils are no longer as eager to bring in his talents:
Reports in Portugal suggest that Liverpool are now in pole position to sign Carvalho, despite claims that his representatives meet with Man United officials in January.
Rodgers is a known admirer of the powerful Sporting Lisbon midfielder who has earned two caps for the Portuguese national side.
Manchester United's interest in the player has waned since David Moyes’ departure last month, and it remains unclear whether boss in waiting Louis Van Gaal is keen to maintain United's pursuit.
After losing out on the 2013-14 Premier League title by just a couple of points, Brendan Rodgers is keen to build on Liverpool's recent resurgence, quoted by The Guardian's Andy Hunter on potential summer reinforcements:
I don't want to put a figure on how many but I would rather have one or two absolute top players than seven that might not help us. It's about the quality. We can't be going into the Champions League this year with doubts about players. We have to be going in knowing what the players' capacity to play is and their capabilities.
Twenty-two-year-old Carvalho has impressed in a season that saw Sporting rise back to the premier places in the Liga Primeira, finishing in the top two for the first time since 2009, seven points shy of champions Benfica.
As confirmed by ESPN FC, the two-times capped Portuguese international is en route to playing his role in the nation's 2014 World Cup, too, after making Paulo Bento's provisional 30-man squad:
Portugal's 30-man squad (cont): MF: Andre Gomes, Joao Mario, Joao Moutinho, Miguel Veloso, Raul Meireles, Ruben Amorim, William Carvalho.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 13, 2014
If United's expected successor to the manager's position, Louis van Gaal, doesn't share the same intrigue in Carvalho that Moyes reportedly did, it leaves Liverpool with some relief in their hunt to lure his talents to Anfield.
However, Sporting could insist on seeing the player's buyout clause of £37 million activated before they agree to let him leave, putting a potential roadblock in the Reds' path.
Both clubs are understandably in need of a player possessing Carvalho's skill set. Defence was the area that ultimately undid Liverpool's claim to the league title as they conceded 50 goals, the most of any club to finish in the top four and 13 more than winners Manchester City.
For United, plugging the void in midfield has been a longstanding issue which Moyes sought to solve with last summer's acquisition of Marouane Fellaini, who has so far failed to hit expectations as a Red Devil.
The Mirror's Ed Malyon points out just how highly-rated Carvalho has been in Portugal's top flight of late:
Not saying he's had a good season, but William Carvalho has won 9 of Portugal's 16 possible Player or Young Player of the Month awards.— Ed Malyon (@eaamalyon) April 29, 2014
A busy summer lies ahead for both Manchester United and Liverpool, with the former looking to clear the rubble of their 2013-14 campaign in search of a new era post-Sir Alex Ferguson, whereas the Merseyside powerhouses now have bigger prospects they must match.
As such, two of the Premier League's biggest brands may come to blows over the potential signing of Carvalho, whose big-money arrival would be of major significance to either outfit.