Manchester City have stepped up their negotiations to secure the services of coveted Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte, with Chelsea and Arsenal also interested in securing his services, reports in Spain claim.
After a disappointing season without silverware, the Premier League holders are expected to make a massive overhaul this summer.
And even though the future of City manager Manuel Pellegrini is uncertain, the club are reportedly planning next term with the priority of bolstering the back line.
Captain Vincent Kompany has been far from his best during the current season, while Eliaquim Mangala has failed to make the impact expected following his £32m ($48m) move from Porto.
And Spanish newspaper AS claims City have already made an approach for Laporte to strengthen the heart of the defence. The 20-year-old defender has garnered a reputation as one of the most promising centre-backs around Europe during his last two seasons in La Liga.
Manchester United were linked with his services during the summer of 2014, while AS claims that apart from City, Chelsea and Arsenal are also monitoring his situation.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is said to be on the market for a long-term replacement for John Terry, with Real Madrid star Raphael Varane at the top of his shopping list, while AS claims the Gunners are also interested in Laporte even though manager Arsene Wenger signed Gabriel Paulista from Villarreal in January.
The Spanish newspaper claims Athletic Bilbao are aware of the interest from a number of big European clubs and are already preparing for life without Laporte.
Like Ander Herrera in 2014, AS points out the Basque club will not negotiate his departure so any club interested in the defender will need to meet his full €42m release clause to secure his services.
When asked in February about the Premier League rumours, Laporte responded: "[As players] we play the games and that's it. I'm focused on what I'm doing."
And questioned whether he would like to make that progress at Athletic or elsewhere, he said: "Here there are many players with great experience and I can learn a lot."