Manchester City have added West Ham United midfielder Lucas Paqueta to their list of transfer targets and have made an initial approach for the Brazil international.
That first approach has been deemed unacceptable by West Ham, who do not want to sell another key player in the same summer that Declan Rice left for Arsenal.
But the London club now face a battle to keep Paqueta, who signed for West Ham for a club-record transfer fee of £51 million in August last year.
Telegraph Sport understands that Paqueta has an £85 million release clause which becomes active next summer. City would be unable to trigger the clause this year but that figure could be used as part of discussions between the two clubs.
The Treble winners have lost Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez in this transfer window, and have so far signed only Mateo Kovacic as a midfield replacement. In defence, they have added Croatia centre-back Josko Gvardiol for a fee of £77 million.
Paqueta struggled to find form and consistency in the first half of last season but he became more effective towards the end of West Ham’s campaign. He played the crucial pass that allowed Jarrod Bowen to score the winner in West Ham’s Europa Conference League final victory over Fiorentina in June.
The 25-year-old is a regular for the Brazil national team and impressed at last year’s World Cup in Qatar, where he started four of his country’s five matches.
It has been a complicated summer for the club in the transfer market following the sale of Rice, although West Ham are set to confirm their first arrival of the window after agreeing a £35 million deal with Ajax for midfielder Edson Alvarez.
As well as allowing Rice to leave for Arsenal for £105 million, West Ham have also sold striker Gianluca Scamacca to Atalanta for around £20 million.