Sunderland have launched an ?10million bid for Ipswich teenager Connor Wickham.
But the Tractor Boys are demanding ?12million - and the youngster could hold out for a more glamorous move to Liverpool.
Black Cats' boss Steve Bruce has made 18-year-old Wickham his No 1 summer signing target.
Wick of all right: Connor Wickham is one of the country's most sought after young players
His is the first official bid in the race to snap up the England Under 21 international and it is set to spark a four-club auction for the youngster.
Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham are also keen on the powerfully built striker who became Ipswich's youngest-ever player when he made his senior debut in April 2009, aged just 16 years and 11 days.
Sunderland are desperate to boost their attacking options after the ?24m sale of England ace Darren Bent to Aston Villa in January.
Money to spend: Sunderland are armed with ?20m after the sale of Henderson
Armed with the cash from that deal and Jordan Henderson's recent ?20m move to Liverpool, they are not short of buying power.
The Reds have offered an initial ?6m plus Jonjo Shelvey on loan for Wickham, who has netted 15 goals in 72 appearances.
No bids for Connor! Ipswich boss Jewell plays down Wickham exit talkSunderland set to steal march over Liverpool in race for Ipswich starlet Wickham
Explore more:People: Steve Bruce, Darren Bent Places: Liverpool, United Kingdom