Manchester City face a fight to sign £100m-rated Jack Grealish – with Aston Villa determined to keep their captain after opening talks on a new contract.
City manager Pep Guardiola is an admirer of the England midfielder, 25.
It is anticipated City will make a concerted attempt to sign Grealish this summer as part of an ambitious transfer plan which includes serious interest in England captain Harry Kane.
Grealish only signed a new five-year deal with Villa in September.
He is currently with England preparing for their last 16 Euro 2020 game against Germany at Wembley on Tuesday, having started his first game of the tournament in last week’s 1-0 win over the Czech Republic.
The playmaker, who has been with his hometown club since the age of six, made his senior Villa debut in 2014.
Earlier his week, BBC Sport reported that City had taken the first steps towards trying to sign striker Kane from Tottenham.
Villa have already made their mark in the transfer market this summer by signing Emiliano Buendia from Norwich City in a club record £33m deal while they have also had a £25m offer for Arsenal’s Emile Smith-Rowe turned down.
And Villa’s ambitious owners Nassef Sawaris and Wes Edens have made these moves on the basis of Grealish staying at Villa Park.
Villa finished 11th in a much-improved campaign last season after only surviving relegation on the final day the year before and regard Grealish as the key component in their plans to move forward into contention for European football.
They are determined to put together an attractive package to keep Grealish – although it looks like City will attempt to test that resolve.