Sunderland's England international Jordan Henderson has emerged as a leading target for Liverpool this summer as they seek to strengthen their midfield.
The 20-year-old has been identified as one of Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli's top targets with the hope that a deal can be done early in the summer.
Henderson has been a target for Manchester United but they want Luka Modric and Wesley Sneijder.
A box-to-box midfielder in the Steven Gerrard mould, Henderson made his debut for the senior England team against France in November. He would cost around £20m as one of the brightest young English talents – he has four years left on his contract at Sunderland where he came through the youth academy.
Liverpool are also interested in Stewart Downing at Aston Villa. They have missed out on Downing's team-mate Ashley Young, who is set for United. Charles Nzogbia, at Wigan Athletic, is another target. It is in keeping with the policy established by Kenny Dalglish and Comolli of signing players they believe still have their best years ahead of them.
There are concerns at Liverpool that United could muscle in on the Henderson deal. The player is represented by Neil Fewings, the same agent who oversaw Darren Bent's move to Aston Villa. There would be disquiet among Sunderland fans if he was allowed to leave but an offer of around £20m would be difficult for the club to turn down.