PSV Eindhoven are planning an ambitious swoop to sign Sporting Lisbon starlet Tiago Ilori from under the noses of Liverpool, reports suggest.
Brendan Rodgers' side have been persistently linked with the 20-year-old centre half as he aims to bolster his defensive options following the retirement of Jamie Carragher at the end of last season.
The club have enlisted the services of former Arsenal and Manchester City centre half Kolo Toure, but the club remain in the market for more recruits given their dearth of options other than Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel, both of whom have also been subject of transfer speculation linking them with a move away from Anfield.
The highly rated Ilori could represent a long term option for Liverpool, but Portuguese newspaper Record suggest Dutch giants PSV are preparing an effort of their own, one strengthened by the financial backing of sports investment group Doyen Sports.
Liverpool failed with a bid reported to be in the region of £3m earlier in the summer, having been told by Sporting that it would take an offer of at least double that in order for them to consider selling.
Given PSV's financial restrictions, a bid to buy Ilori outright is not an option. Record suggest the Eredivisie club will now use Doyen, who have ties with names such as Radamel Falcao, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Alvaro Negredo, to help fund their efforts to bring the Portuguese Under-20 international to Holland, a move that could see Doyen capitalise on their investment if Ilori is later sold by PSV for a greater fee.
Ilori, who is contracted to the Estadio Jose Alvalade until 2015, has made just 12 appearances for Sporting since being promoted from the youth ranks at the beginning of the year. Despite his tender years, the London-born defender impressed the club's hierarchy and clubs around Europe.