Manchester City will go head to head with Liverpool in the race to sign one of Europe’s most prized teenagers.
Both Premier League clubs have watched 17-year-old midfielder Aster Vranckx on at least three separate occasions, after he burst onto the football stage with Belgian club KV Mechelen at the turn of the year.
And with other European clubs like Bayern Munich and Feyenoord circling, they will hope to make a summer move for a player who could cost as little as £1.5m initially.
Vranckx is a tall, athletic midfielder who can fulfil a number of roles in the middle of the park, and at 17 has already shown maturity beyond his years as he grabbed a regular starting place just before the Belgian league was postponed in March.
The midfielder scored one and laid on another in a 2-0 win against Anderlecht in February, a game in which both Liverpool and City had the player watched.
But he has been monitored long before that headline-grabbing appearance, with Liverpool tracking him since he made his senior debut in the Jupiler League at just 16 years old, back in 2019.
He already has five caps for the Belgium U19 side, and with Premier League clubs looking to cut their budgets as they face serious losses over the next uncertain 12 months, Vranckx represents a far more sensible target in the transfer market this summer.
With the Belgium league facing a vote on May 15 over the question of whether to end their season because of the Coronavirus crisis, Mechelen will almost certainly need to sell this summer, and the midfielder, along with 18 year old striker Issa Kabore, is their biggest asset.
City want to maintain their supply line of talented teenagers into the academy set up at the Etihad, a policy they hope will pay dividends over the coming years. They have signed teenagers such as Yan Couto, Ante Palaversa, Pedro Pollo, and Luka Ilic in recent seasons, and will continue that trend.
Liverpool’s transfer plans are now largely focusing on the next generation of talent, with a budget deficit likely over the next 12-18 months in the fall out from the global pandemic, and they have looked at several other targets, including 19 year old Brazilian striker Talles Magno.