Watford are ready to demand a club-record fee of over £40million for Ismaila Sarr, amid interest from Liverpool and clubs around Europe.
Crystal Palace and Wolves are also tracking the 22-year-old, while sides in Germany and Spain have scouted the winger after he scored six goals during his first season in England.
Clubs are now ready to pounce for Sarr after Watford were relegated, but the Hornets are ready to fight hard and will demand a fee in excess of the record £40m Everton paid for Richarlison in 2018.
Watford spent £30m to sign Sarr from Rennes last summer and there is a belief the player’s value has only increased after a year in England, while the club are in a strong position given that the Senegal international has four years left on his contract.
Crystal Palace have expressed a keen interest in the winger and scouted him while he was at Rennes, but it is thought they could be priced out of a move.
Instead, Liverpool are emerging as frontrunners to sign Sarr and the Reds have watched him in action.
The winger would fit the profile of player Jurgen Klopp is after and, at just 22, has plenty of years to develop further.
Sarr himself would be keen on a move to Liverpool, or another top-six side, but a switch to Anfield is particularly attractive given it would allow him to play alongside his hero, Sadio Mane.
The pair came through the same academy in Senegal and such is Sarr’s love for Mane he often watches YouTube clips of the Liverpool winger before matches.
Watford owner Gino Pozzo has shown over the years he is a stubborn transfer negotiator and he will drive a hard bargain over Sarr too.
The club’s finances have been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and relegation from the Premier League, but there is no need for a fire sale.
Some players will, of course, leave, with midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure one of those likely to go, but Watford do not need to sell all their star players this summer.
Funding a deal for Sarr could prove problematic for Liverpool, but it could be financed by selling the likes of Harry Wilson, Marko Grujic and Xherdan Shaqiri.
Those sales could bank over £50m for the Reds and will increase the likelihood of a late swoop for Sarr.