Barcelona have reportedly begun negotiations and are in pole position to secure the services of Villarreal striker Luciano Vietto even though his agent, Jorge Cyterszpiler, recently claimed the 21-year-old forward could sign for Liverpool in the summer.
The Argentine starlet is proving to be a sensation a sensation in La Liga since his 2014 summer arrival to Villarreal.
Having already scored 20 goals this season – 12 in La Liga and eight in the Europa League – his agent recently confirmed a number of European clubs were ready to battle for his services.
"We know that a lot of big clubs are watching Luciano Vietto. There is a lot of competition for him. He could sign for Liverpool, we know that he is admired by the Reds, as well as Real Madrid and two Bundesliga clubs. I think he could leave Villarreal in the summer," Cyterszpiler recently said.
Following the failure of Mario Balotelli to live up to expectations at Anfield, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is said to be keen on bolstering his attack during the summer. And after Villarreal president Fernando Roig revealed Vietto's release clause is €20m (£14.5m, $22.2m), speculation about a move to Merseyside has increased.
However, Sky Sports La Liga expert Guillem Balague has claimed Barcelona are leading the race to secure his services.
Earlier in 2015, Spanish radio station Onda Cero claimed the Catalans were closely monitoring his development while now Balague has said the club have already started negotiations to sign him in 2016, once their current Fifa transfer ban has expired.
"Vietto is negotiating with Barcelona about the possibility of joining them in 2016," Balague said. "It hasn't been finalised yet but they are favourites at the moment to get him. I know in the eyes of many that will become 'Guillem says Vietto is going to Barcelona' but I'm not saying that. We will see if it gets confirmed."
Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have also been linked with his services, with Diego Simeone the manager who handed him his top-flight debut at Argentine side Racing Club, when the striker was 17.