Manchester City are preparing a summer swoop for Liverpool stalwart Philippe Coutinho in the summer, according to the Daily Mirror.
The diminutive Brazilian has been in brilliant form this season, scoring and assisting goals for fun, including winners against City in the league and against Blackburn in the FA Cup replay, to take them into the semi-finals.
Liverpool are going through a crisis of sorts after both Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling refused a contract extension, with the Reds staring at a massive exodus in the summer. It will be a major blow for Brendan Rodgers, whose side looks unlikely to qualify for the Champions League this season, and are currently six points behind City in fourth.
Failure to play in the Champions League will make them a lesser prospect among potential recruits, as has been the case with Manchester United in the past. The Red Devils therefore had to spruce up their wage structure to attract talent.
Moreover, having already spent massive sums of money after the departure of Luis Suarez to Barcelona, Rodgers will find it difficult to start a similar restructure, should he be forced to part with his three prized possessions. Steven Gerrard is also set to leave for the MLS after the end of the season, with Henderson expected to take up the captain's armband on his departure.
Coutinho, signed for £8.5m in 2013, is currently valued at around £35m and will act as an adversary to David Silva, who has been overburdened with the team's creative responsibilities.
City are also believed to be preparing a bid for Sterling and Jack Wilshere in a bid to get in line with the FA's rule of having a requisite number of homegrown players in the squad. With City linked with myriads of Liverpool players, it is plausible that the Citizens will manage to complete a raid on Liverpool akin to what the Reds did on Southampton last summer.
The reigning Champions have previously failed in their attempt with Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair, who flattered to deceive in their brief career at the Etihad.