Liverpool have been somewhat halted in their advances for Adam Lallana over the past week, as the Southampton board placed an embargo on any outgoing transfers until a new manager is installed at St Mary's.
The 26-year-old scored eight times and contributed key goals in Sunderland's last-gasp escape from relegation, with the highlight of his season coming in a 4-1 victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage where he netted a hat-trick.
Although Gus Poyet is an admirer of Johnson, the Uruguayan could be tempted to part with the England international should Fabio Borini be waved in his direction as a make-weight.
The 23-year-old Italian was a hit on Wearside throughout his loan spell last season and the Sunderland manager made no secret of his desire to sign the player on a permanent basis if the possibility arose.
Following the arrival of Rickie Lambert at Anfield competition in attacking positions is fierce and although Borini's agent has been quick to quash rumours that his client is set to move, Liverpool have reportedly quoted £12m to Sunderland should they wish to make an offer for the player.
Sunderland parted with £10m to bring Adam Johnson from Manchester City in 2010, meaning the two players are arguably of similar values and the possibility of a straight exchange might suit both sides.
Liverpool were thought to originally have been keen on Benfica winger Lazar Markovic as an alternative to Adam Lallana, but with that deal seemingly going quiet, there could be real substance in their interest in Adam Johnson.
The reds may yet face competition from their Merseyside rivals Everton who have also been linked to Johnson in recent days, but Roberto Martinez has been open of late about his preference to manipulate the loan market and this will most likely rule the Toffees out of the equation with Sunderland only interested in a permanent sale.