Leicester City will challenge Liverpool for Shane Long's signature this summer, as the new Premier League champions are the latest club to express their interest in the Irish international, the Sunday Independent has learned.
The 29-year-old has just enjoyed the best campaign of his career this season at Southampton, hitting 13 goals in 32 games - and three in his last six - with that form already having attracted the attention of Jurgen Klopp earlier in the year.
The Liverpool manager thinks Long's physical game fits his high-energy approach, but Leicester now also see him as an ideal enhancement to their title-winning team.
Conscious of the need to build a squad that can defend the Premier League title while also negotiating the Champions League for the first time, the King Power Stadium hierarchy are aware they need to have almost a second XI, and they also want to have the flexibility of alternative tactical options.
Read more: Klopp ready to move for hot Leicester prospect after Moreno's European capitulation
Long is seen as almost perfect for that, given his difference in style to Jamie Vardy, Shinji Okazaki and Leonardo Ulloa. It's understood that Leicester's interest has now been made known to intermediaries.
While Long has just enjoyed the most prolific season of his time as a Premier League player, both Klopp and the Leicester City staff feel he brings much more to the team than goals through his willingness to work hard and press high up the pitch, and also his intelligent running, which has clearly improved under the supervision of his current manager Ronald Koeman.
Southampton will strongly resist any attempts to sign the striker, however. Koeman has in the past publicly complained about how frustrating it is that the club so readily sell their best players, making it impossible to build, and successfully fought to prevent the exits of Victor Wanyama and Sadio Mane in the January transfer window. He also has a strong relationship with Long.
Those close to the situation feel it would take a bid of at least £25m to even tempt Southampton, although the situation could be complicated by the fact Long has just two years left on his contract.
Long's displays at Euro 2016, where he looks a certain starter for Martin O'Neill's team, will be closely monitored by potential suitors. If he were to take his current rich vein of form into the tournament, it could increase the price tag on his shoulders further.
Meanwhile, Watford have appointed Walter Mazzarri as their new head coach on a three-year contract.
The 54-year-old replaces Quique Sanchez Flores at Vicarage Road to become the Hornets' eighth manager in the last four years.
Italian Mazzarri arrives with plenty of coaching experience having managed Sampdoria, Napoli and Inter Milan amongst others in his home country.
New York City FC - the glamour Major League Soccer team containing David Villa, Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard - suffered the ultimate humiliation on Saturday when they were beaten 7-0 at home by bitter rivals the New York Red Bulls.
The FA Cup has pulled a few great managers back from the precipice. Alex Ferguson, early in his Old Trafford career, and Arsène Wenger, three seasons ago, are the best examples. Seldom has a coach stepped into this great Wembley ritual with informed opinion suggesting he would be out of a job either way.