Reading are reportedly preparing to hijack Liverpool's move for long-time target and Blackpool winger Thomas Ince by matching the player's price tag.
The Reds have been in negotiations with the Seasiders throughout January to bring their academy product back to Anfield but are yet to agree on a fee with the Championship club. The situation has now prompted the Royals to make an effort to steal a march on the Merseyside outfit and snap up the 20-year-old, according to the Daily Mirror.
Reading, who sit 18th in the Premier League, are keen to make some additions in this window as they attempt to escape relegation. Club owner Anton Zingarevich could now be ready to shell out the £8m that Blackpool is demanding for the player.
Ince left the Liverpool academy to join the Tangerines for £250,000 in 2011. The Reds are still understood to be confident that they can beat their rival suitors and complete the transfer as they have a sell-on clause for the player.
The England U-21 star has 15 goals and 10 assists to his name from 27 Championship appearances this season. Ince, who can operate either in the centre or on the left of midfield, also scored at the weekend to help the Blackpool post a 2-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Rodgers: I've Helped Reds Trio Improve
Meanwhile, Brendan Rodgers claims he has succeeded in adding value to Reds' stars Stewart Downing, Jose Enrique and Jordan Henderson. The Northern Irishman, who took charge at Anfield from Swansea last summer, feels the performances of the trio, who joined the club last season, have improved considerably of late.
"You look at Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and Jose Enrique since the start of the season and we have added value back to them. Absolutely," Rodgers said.
"That is the job of the manager and the coach, as well as winning games. My job is to improve players in every aspect of their game. You have to work with the players you have and I have done that throughout my life," the 39-year-old added.