Transfer Talk: Citizens seek to take control in battle for Bellingham
The summer transfer window is fast approaching and Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham will be one of the most sought-after targets when it arrives.
Liverpool have long been linked with the England international but recent reports indicate Real Madrid and Manchester City are the two frontrunners.
As City and Liverpool clash in the Premier League, we take a look at why the pair are battling for the 19-year-old's signature and what he would bring to each side's midfield.
One man convinced of Bellingham's abilities is Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard.
Speaking during the international break, he showered praise on the teenager.
Gerrard said: "We are talking about a potentially world-class footballer, someone who seems really focused at the moment. I think Gareth Southgate is trying to build a team around [Bellingham], he is that much of a talent.
"He's in a fantastic place and everything else around him he just needs to park it up and keep playing well and everything else will take care of itself."
Bellingham is in demand for a reason. The Three Lions star operates with a maturity that belies his tender years and breaks from midfield with real purpose.
The Birmingham academy graduate has played 124 games in all competitions since arriving in Germany, contributing 20 goals and 24 assists.
He has been a key figure this season as Dortmund challenge for the Bundesliga title, delivering four goals and four assists in 24 appearances.
The midfielder also ranks second in the German top flight this term for take-ons completed (63), possessions won in the attacking third (28) and final third passes completed (334).
Leader of men
In addition to his superb numbers, Bellingham is also a natural leader, according to Dortmund coach Edin Terzic.
That level-headedness led him to snub past advances from Manchester United, instead trusting his development to BVB, who have an excellent track record with nurturing young talent.
Terzic said: "Before he chose to join us he had opportunities to join the Premier League.
"He chose to join us because he [knew] it could be the perfect step. I think we have proven that. He is helping us a lot but we as a club are helping him and his career as well.
"We are really happy that he is part of our team. He is already one of our leaders at 19."
It is difficult to envisage a midfield that would not be improved by Bellingham's presence.
When comparing Dortmund's No22 to his counterparts from his reported suitors in the Champions League this season, he stands above the rest in several key areas.
Going forward, the 24-cap international has scored more goals (four) and completed more take-ons (11) than any positional peer at Madrid, City or Liverpool.
Defensively, meanwhile, his tallies of 15 tackles, 13 interceptions and 10 aerial duels won are all more than any midfielder at the aforementioned trio of clubs.
Battling it out
City and Liverpool will go head-to-head over Bellingham's signature this summer but first they must battle it out on the pitch.
Neither side has quite been at their best this term — City trail Arsenal in the title race, while Liverpool sit outside the top four.
The underperformance of both sides underlines their need to boost their respective midfields.
Bellingham may well be watching this clash intently as he mulls over the next step of his skyrocketing career.