Liverpool reportedly had a £29.5million bid for Villarreal’s Nigerian attacker Samuel Chukwueze rejected during the January transfer window.
Chukwueze has attracted the attentions of Europe’s top clubs – including Liverpool and Chelsea- after Lionel Messi placed him third in his vote for the Kopa Trophy, an award for players under 21.
The 20-year-old winger eventually finished ninth in the poll, which is voted for by former Ballon d’Or winners.
As a teenager he starred in the 2015 under-17 World Cup, scoring seven goals in seven matches as Nigeria were crowned champions.
And Liverpool have been so impressed that they bid €35m (£29.5m) for him in January, according to France Football.
The publication says the Reds wanted Chukwueze to provide cover and competition for Mohamed Salah, with Xherdan Shaqiri increasingly looking set for a future away from Anfield.
However, the bid was reportedly turned down by La Liga side Villarreal, who are said to holding out for Chukwueze’s £55m release clause to be met.
Chukwueze is contracted to Villarreal until 2023, but the Yellow Submarine are bracing themselves for a summer transfer scrap for his signature, with Chelsea also said to be keen.
Since his starring role in Nigeria’s U17 World Cup triumph Chukwueze has progressed into an important first-team player for Villarreal, and French side Lyon are also among those said to be monitoring the winger.
Chukwueze came through the academy at Villarreal and broke into the first-team last season, making 38 appearances in all competitions and scoring eight goals.
So far this season he had made 22 appearances in La Liga, scoring three goals and providing three assists, and it would be a big blow for Villarreal to lose one of their most promising players.
Although he primarily plays as a right winger, he can also play on the left flank or as a central attacking midfielder.