Manchester United are set to put one over on Liverpool by snapping up £55million centre-back Dayot Upamecano.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has targeted the RB Leipzig star, 22, to bolster his creaking backline in the long-term absence of Virgil van Dijk.
But with Klopp insisting he will not enter the market this month, United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could add to the German’s woes by nipping in to sign him.
Upamenco’s £38m release clause is only activated in the summer.
And if United fail to land him then, they could turn their attention to Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane in the summer.
According to Spanish reports, the World Cup winner wants out of the Bernabeu, after winning 17 trophies since joining the club in 2011.
The 27-year-old’s contract runs until the end of the 2021-22 season and Real would prefer to cash in on the defender rather than risk losing him for nothing.
However, United have scouted Upamecano, 22, for over a year and were close to agreeing a deal last summer.
But they stepped back when the player’s father started making extra demands – opening the door for Liverpool to join the race.
Klopp was under fire for not strengthening his defence even before Van Dijk and Joe Gomez were crocked.
Yet Anfield sources claim he plans to go all guns blazing for the young defender in the summer.
United have continued to keep tabs on Upamecano, despite cooling on the deal in the summer, and will go head to head with Liverpool – if they do not move sooner.
SunSport revealed in October they initially tried to sign him as a 16-year-old, but missed out because they would not meet the £700,000 asking price by his then club Valenciennes.
Upamecano even travelled to Old Trafford with his parents, but United chiefs wouldn’t go above £500,000, despite him already earning rave reviews in France’s youth teams.
He subsequently joined Salzburg, and moved to Leipzig in 2017, where he is contracted for another two years.