Everton and Liverpool are ready to go head to head for the signature of highly-rated Charlton Athletic defender Ezri Konsa, according to The Mirror.
The Toffees were heavily linked with the 20-year-old at the beginning of January, with boss Sam Allardyce keen to add the talented youngster to his defensive options but he could now face competition from his fierce rivals.
Addicks manager Karl Robinson recently described reported Everton target Konsa as â€˜the best young centre-back in the countryâ€™ and the League 1 side are eager to recoup as much money for their starlet as possible, with an initial Â£5 million fee mooted in various media outlets.
There is also a possibility that any move would see the youngster loaned back to Charlton until the end of the season. The Addicks are currently in sixth position in the third tier of English football and will be hoping to mount a serious promotion push over the remainder of the campaign.
Keeping Konsa would represent a big boost to achieving that goal, with the young defender playing an integral role in their impressive season to date.
Everton have a healthy relationship with Charlton, having negotiated an initial Â£7.5m deal for another talented youngster Ademola Lookman in January 2017.
That connection would likely place the Toffees at the front of the queue for Konsa but Liverpoolâ€™s reported interest may make any deal far from certain, with the Reds having previously taken Joe Gomez from The Valley in June 2015.
The athletic central defender shot to prominence last summer, after featuring for an impressive England Under-20 team that lifted the World Cup in South Korea in June.
Allardyceâ€™s pursuit of Konsa stems from a desire to address an ageing Everton back line.
The likes of Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka have provided valuable experience and assuredness in recent years but at 33 and 35 years old respectively, the focus must now shift to replacing the Toffees veterans with younger alternatives.
Despite his tender age, Konsa has played an important role for Robinsonâ€™s Charlton outfit, playing his part in a competent and solid defensive unit. That experience has proved vital in helping to develop significant intelligence and has also added a unique degree of maturity to his game.
Should he make the move to Goodison Park before the transfer window closes at the end of the month, a fee of Â£5m could prove to be a bargain for Everton in ensuring the signature of a player with such considerable promise.