Southampton have edged ahead of Liverpool in the clubs' pursuit of Inter Milan midfielder Philippe Coutinho.
The Daily Mail reports the Saints' £10.2m bid for the Brazilian has been accepted by the Serie A club, who earlier rejected a £6.3m bid from the Reds. Liverpool subsequently improved their offer to £8m but will now have to bid even higher to match Southampton's offer.
The 20-year-old has had a poor season so far with the Nerazzurri, making only 12 appearances in all competitions; he has only two goals to show for the game time. Coutinho joined Inter from Brazilian side Vasco da Gama in 2009 and spent the second half of the 2011/12 season on loan at Spanish side Espanyol, where he played under Argentine manager Mauricio Pochettino and produced some of his best football since moving to Europe.
And should he make the switch to St Mary's, Coutinho will re-unite with Pochettino, who has been appointed as Nigel Adkins' successor.
Coutinho is a pacey and versatile player, who can operate as an attacking midfielder or out wide on the flanks. The report also claims Brendan Rodgers sees the youngster as a future Reds star and has identified him as an alternative to Blackpool's Tom Ince, after negotiations to bring the English prodigy back to Anfield broke down again.
Suso Ready for Fight
Meanwhile, Liverpool youngster Suso says he is ready to fight for his place in the Anfield club's first team. The 19-year-old was impressive in the first half of the season, making three starts in the club's UEFA Europa League campaign and eight in the Premier League (18 appearances across all competitions).
However, he has not featured for the club since the 2-1 win over Mansfield Town in a FA Cup tie in early January. And the arrival of Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge, coupled with the return from injury of summer signing Fabio Borini, means game time is likely to be limited for the young forward.
"With Daniel Sturridge coming in and Fabio Borini back from injury there is going to be extra competition for places. Playing for Liverpool's first team is going to be difficult and it should be because it is one of the best teams in Europe. The competition is good for me because it makes me determined to work even harder and to get better. But the most important thing is always the team," Suso told the club's Web site.