Schalke midfielder Leon Goretzka is poised to announce his next club in January, and Liverpool have reportedly moved ahead in the queue.
Goretzka is set to leave Gelsenkirchen after five years, with the 22-year-old entering the final six months of his contract in 2018.
He will therefore be able to leave Schalke on a free transfer, in a situation similar to that of his fellow Germany international Emre Can at Liverpool.
Given Goretzka’s performances for both club and country in recent years, including seven goals and one assist in 15 games this season, he is attracting interest from a host of top sides.
These include Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Man United and Juventus, with the latter also pursuing a deal to sign Can.
But according to German publication Bild, Liverpool could pip their fellow European giants to one of the most impressive deals of 2018.
They claim that with the prospect of working under Jurgen Klopp, and alongside both a former team-mate in Joel Matip and a top midfielder in Naby Keita, Goretzka’s interest will be piqued.
Furthermore, though Schalke are still hoping to convince the youngster to extend his spell at the Veltins-Arena, Liverpool could easily offer better terms.
Given Can’s likely impending departure, with Borussia Dortmund also credited with an interest alongside Juventus, Klopp will need to sign a replacement next summer.
Though Keita is already set to arrive in a £55 million deal in July, uncertainty over the future of Philippe Coutinho suggests another arrival is required.
Jordan Henderson continues to struggle with injury problems, while James Milner will turn 32 in January and Marko Grujic is seemingly no closer to a starting berth.
That leaves Georginio Wijnaldum and Adam Lallana as Klopp’s only other dependable, senior midfielders, highlighting the impact Can’s exit would have.
Goretzka is arguably an upgrade: a burly, box-to-box midfielder with an ever-improving eye for goal, who would need little adjustment to the demands of life in the Premier League.
Signing him on a free transfer would be a major coup, as he has the potential to develop into one of the leading midfield talents in Europe.