Real Madrid are reportedly lining up a move for Liverpool forward Sadio Mane, who is said to be a priority signing in Los Blancos' summer revolution.
France Football journalist Arnaud Tulipier said Mane is firmly in Real's sights, although Get French Football News clarified earlier reports that a deal had already been agreed in principle:
Mane scored Liverpool's only goal in the 3-1 defeat to Real in the UEFA Champions League final in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 26, and he could now have his chance to join Europe's three-peat champions.
Sport Witness cited the same report from France Football and detailed that Real had a deal in place with Mane prior to Zinedine Zidane's recent departure from the Spanish outfit's helm.
The overriding issue is that Liverpool had no such agreement, and with no mention of a transfer fee even being in place, the Reds don't seem to be in any immediate peril of losing Mane's services.
But that could change if Mane began to campaign for a move to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, and Jack Lusby of This Is Anfield noted the shock nature of the speculation:
There is logic to the rumours, however, as Real could soon need a player of Mane's specification. A winger who's capable of providing goals from out wide and in a support role, he could be targeted as an eventual successor to Cristiano Ronaldo, 33, or Gareth Bale, whose place in Madrid remains in question.
Mane, 26, has just finished the best season of his career to date, in which he netted 20 goals—his best tally since moving to England in 2014—and could be added to a Real attack that's suffered slightly due to Karim Benzema's drop in form.
The winger is set to travel with Senegal to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia next week, where he could boost his reputation even further. Bleacher Report's Liverpool correspondent Karl Matchett warned the speedster against joining the team that just beat him to the biggest prize in club football:
Reds chief Jurgen Klopp brought Mane to Anfield from Southampton in 2016 and has taken his career to new heights alongside several others who have excelled on Merseyside.
Transfer speculation comes part and parcel with success, which is something Klopp is on course to achieving with Liverpool, although the loss of an attacking cornerstone like Mane could take the wind out of the Reds' sails.