Manchester City are looking to the future with their pursuit of Saint-Etienne defender Kurt Zouma, and are set to follow that up by chasing FC Groningen winger Richairo Zivkovic.
Zivkovic, tipped to be 'the next Arjen Robben' by Dutch media, has broken into the Groningen first team aged just 17, and his impressive performances for the Eredivisie club have attracted the interest of some of Europe's biggest clubs.
Barcelona scouts were reportedly in attendance to watch Zivkovic take on Roda JC in a 3-3 draw, and Groningen director Hans Nijland confirmed that many teams are eyeing the youngster with a view to signing him – including Liverpool.
'All the top clubs in Holland want him but Liverpool are here every week too,' Nijland is quoted to have said in the past. 'They are watching him closely and very keen.'
The deal that saw Liverpool loan Hungarian winger Krisztian Adorjan to Groningen now appears to be a sweetener in an attempt to secure the signature of Zivkovic, but City have the funds to beat the Anfield side to the youngster – though Brendan Rodgers may be able to offer a fast track to the first team, with fewer stars currently occupying the same position.
Manuel Pellegrini's side are placing a greater emphasis on bringing through talent, and have been acquiring youngsters from all over the world in recent years. Just a look at their academy shows Slovakians, Norwegians, French, Spanish, Austrian and Portuguese players, and the pursuit of Zivkovic is no doubt one of their highest priorities – particularly with Pellegrini's tendency to use wingers in his formations.
Whilst eligible to play for Holland, Zivkovic made the decision to represent Serbia, the country of his mother's birth, disappointing the Dutch football association in the process. The youngster's Twitter account was inundated with tweets from both Dutch and Serbian fans begging Zivkovic to represent their country, but Zivkovic has seemingly made up his mind on who to play for internationally, but could have an equally difficult decision to make in the near future, over where his domestic loyalties lie.
It may be a case of sticking in Holland – either with Groningen or one of the bigger sides such as Ajax or PSV Eindhoven – in order to further his development. Moves to either Barcelona, Liverpool or Manchester City may seem exciting now, but many players move before they are ready and end up sat on the sideliens – which would be a terrible waste of Zivkovic's talent.
image: © geetarchurchy