This story has been reproduced from today's media. It does not necessarily represent the position of Liverpool Football Club.
Liverpool are on the verge of a major transfer coup, with MD Ian Ayre flying to Spain on Thursday to open talks with one of the country's most exciting youngsters.
Anfield chief Ayre was in Barcelona for talks over Spain Under-21 defender Martin Montoya - who is set to become a free agent at the end of the season after negotiations over a new contract broke down.
There is anger among fans of the Nou Camp giants at what is seen as negligence that such a highly-rated local youngster has been allowed to get so close to the end of his contract.
But that is Liverpool's gain - with sources at Barcelona indicating that talks have stalled fatally - and the 22-year-old is free to discuss terms with interested parties.
The Reds are at the head of a queue that also includes Arsenal and Inter Milan.
Liverpool were hoping to secure Montoya on a free at the end of the season, but it is thought Ayre has travelled out to discuss the possibility of a move in January.
Kop manager Brendan Rodgers is keen to find cover after losing left-back Jose Enrique to injury for the rest of the season, with the Liverpool coach turning to youngster Jon Flanagan for last Saturday's Merseyside derby.
Montoya is the ideal candidate - not only can he play both full-back positions, but he is widely regarded as a coming talent in Spain and has been earmarked at the world champions' next right-back.
The player was part of the Spain U21 team that triumphed at last summer's European Championship, and also won the league and cup double with Barca.
But there has been little urgency in talks over a new deal from the Catalan club, and it seems their complacency will now be punished, with his agent admitting it will be hard to agree terms.
Speaking recently, Jose Maria Orobitg explained: "We have been talking about a renewal, but there is nothing yet as the situation is a little complicated.
"We will evaluate the situation more as we move forward."
Sources in Spain have suggested those talks have now broken down completely - and Ayre's presence in the city suggests he has reached an advanced stage in his attempts to bring the young star to England.
Rodgers is a huge fan of the defender after scouting him in the summer, and can't believe his luck that such a highly regarded talent has been allowed to get within six months of the end of his contract.
The defender has 22 caps at U21 level and also played for Spain at last year's Olympics.
He has made 30 appearances for Barca - including a start in the Spanish Cup Final.