Liverpool target Adam Lallana is considering handing in a transfer request at Southampton in an attempt to force through a long-rumoured move to Anfield, according to reports on Monday.
The England midfielder had a terrific season for Saints in 2013-14 as the south-coast side finished eighth in the Premier League, but now he wants a move to the Reds, per Rhys Turrell in the Daily Star:
With Lallana set for an early return from the World Cup after England's swift exit from the competition, the deal should move a step closer in the next week.
Reports from the north west suggest Lallana is reluctant to hand in an official transfer request, but will make it known that he wishes to complete a move to Merseyside.
England will return from the World Cup in Brazil in just a matter of days, having been knocked out at the group stages, meaning negotiations between Liverpool and Southampton are likely to reopen very soon.
New manager Ronald Koeman—replacing the departed Mauricio Pochettino—will no doubt have a say on Lallana's movements, but an eventual sale does seem inevitable.
Will Lallana be at Liverpool next season?
However, Southampton are not going to let their talisman go easily and reportedly want up to £30 million for the player, who scored nine goals and bagged six assists last season, per WhoScored.com.
The deal may include a partial swap deal with out-of-favour Reds striker Fabio Borini going the other way.
Saints are looking to recoup as much money as possible for Lallana, not least because 25 per cent of any transfer fee has to go to Bournemouth, from where Southampton snapped up the player as a 12-year-old.
While Liverpool are hoping to bring Lallana to Merseyside, they may have a scrap on their hands to keep young star Raheem Sterling at the club, as he is reportedly of interest to La Liga giants Real Madrid, per Chisanga Malata in the Daily Star:
Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti is keen to sign Liverpool and England midfielder Raheem Sterling.
According to reports in Spain, Ancelotti is a huge fan of Sterling and kept a close eye [sic] the 19-year-old last season.
Sterling is being mooted as a potential replacement for Angel di Maria, who last month suggested he may be on his way out of the Bernabeu, per Malanga's report:
I am not going to lie, I know that there are clubs that want to sign me and can match Real Madrid's demands.
But that's up to my representatives and the club. I will stay if the club wants me to stay.
I am not thinking about my future now. We will see what Madrid have in mind, whether they want me to stay or leave.
However, it seems Ancelotti will wait until next summer's transfer window to try to persuade the England winger away from Liverpool.
The 19-year-old Sterling scored nine goals and provided five assists in the Premier League last season and was a key part of Roy Hodgson's England team in its opening World Cup games in Brazil, per The Northern Echo's Scott Wilson:
Sterling's presence was a huge positive, but Rooney is not positionally disciplined enough to play on left. If he's not central, drop him.— Scott Wilson (@Scottwilsonecho) June 15, 2014
He has the potential to be a major star and will benefit hugely from playing in the Champions League next season—Liverpool return to the competition courtesy of a second-place league finish in 2013-14.
However, he will no doubt attract interest from lots of different clubs if he maintains his performance level, so Brendan Rodgers and the Liverpool hierarchy would do well to secure his services at the club for the long term.
At such a young age, there is no rush for Sterling to move, but rarely do Madrid miss out on their man if the reported interest proves to be true.