Exclusive - Liverpool have ramped up their scouting of Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie, who is seen by the Reds' hierarchy as a viable long-term target.
Jürgen Klopp's side recently secured the Premier League title, but the focus is already on looking for ways to ensure that Liverpool can stay at the top of the mountain for a little while longer.
The boss recently admitted that he is delighted with his current squad and doesn't see many ways to improve it, but when it comes to thinking about the long-term, Liverpool are well aware that they could need to improve in a few positions.
Midfield is one area which has been highlighted as a potential future weakness. Naby Keïta's future at Anfield is far from certain, James Milner is 34 and club captain Jordan Henderson recently turned 30, so there will need to be changes somewhere down the line.
Scouts have been instructed to find potential long-term solutions to this problem, and a source has confirmed to 90min that McKennie's name has been mentioned on a number of occasions.
Liverpool began scouting the American since 2017 when he first joined Schalke, and they have since seen him blossom into a core part of the team. Scouts have been keeping a close eye on McKennie since the turn of the year and there is a belief that he could be the ideal candidate to step in at Anfield once the current crop of midfielders begin to decline.
The 21-year-old signed a new contract at Schalke last summer and still has four years left to run on that deal, but it is believed that he would be interested in heading to the Premier League. Liverpool would ideally like to wait before considering a move for McKennie, but there is an acceptance that several other English sides have been tracking the midfielder as well.
Schalke have found themselves in a serious financial struggle. Bild add that the club's debts of close to £180m have left them willing to offload some of their top assets this summer, which could attract bids from plenty of English sides and force Liverpool into making a decision on McKennie earlier than they had planned.
Klopp is eager to avoid upsetting the balance of his current squad, and has regularly spoken of his reluctance to spend any significant sums this summer, which is why plans have already switched to future transfer windows.