Liverpool have emerged as favourites to sign the Manchester City winger Adam Johnson before the transfer window closes at the end of this month.
Johnson is keen to leave the Etihad Stadium this summer in order to further his England credentials. He missed out on the final squad for the European Championship and feels this was down to his lack of regular first-team action during City's Premier League title-winning season.
Sunderland, Spurs and Everton have all shown a serious interest and are ready to match City's £10m asking price, which would give them a £2m profit on the 25-year-old signed from Middlesbrough in 2010.
Back then Sunderland were also in the running for the North-east winger, but lost out to the spending power and the possibility of winning things at the Etihad. The Wearsiders have the funds in place once again to sign Johnson, with Martin O'Neill eager to add the winger to his squad in this transfer window.
Spurs and Everton remain keen on Johnson, who has been capped 12 times for England, but last night Liverpool became front-runners for his signature when their manager, Brendan Rodgers, was told he has the funds to offer Manchester City.
Daniel Agger, however, is at this point not included in the prospective deal. The City manager, Roberto Mancini, remains a fan of the 27-year-old Liverpool defender, who would cost in the region of £22m if he were to leave Anfield before the end of August, but the deal for Johnson would be a purely financial one.
In an attempt to strengthen his squad Rodgers has also tracked the Barcelona winger Tello, who played in Sunday's 5-1 La Liga win over Real Sociedad.
Johnson, however, is the first choice as Rodgers looks to implement a more fluid style at Liverpool. Moreover it is a move that would appeal to the player, who has been champing at the bit while not becoming the regular starter he wanted to be at Manchester City.
"I'm the kind of player that needs to be playing regularly," he said. "Any player does, really, no matter what age they are. I need to play week-in week-out. You can't just go into one game after not having played for five, and be expected to perform.
"It would be nice to get a run of games with England but I'm not sure if I'll get that chance at City."
Mancini has admitted he does not want to lose Johnson, but cannot offer the guarantees the forward wants. "Adam can have a future here but you should also understand when you are 23 or 24 years old, you want to play," said Mancini.
"If you are at a top team, you can't always do that, so I agree, if he wants to, he has to leave – but if that happens I will be so sorry because Adam is a good guy. He is a different player to the other strikers and wingers, and maybe he could be important for us."
City meanwhile, expect to learn the full extent of Sergio Aguero's injury at the end of the week. The Argentine striker was carried off inside the first 10 minutes of Sunday's opening game against Southampton after damaging his right knee. He later said there was no significant damage but Manchester City's medical staff are still assessing the injury.
Johnson in numbers
10 Number of league starts Johnson made last season.
£8m The cost of his transfer from Middlesbrough to City in 2010.
2 Number of goals for England in 12 appearances for his country.