Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has reportedly held secret talks with the Paris St-Germain bosses over the availability of Marco Verratti.
The Italian midfielder has proved his mettle at PSG after arriving from Pescara in 2012.
His sublime form for the Ligue 1 giants has drawn huge interest from top-flight European clubs.
Real’s arch rivals Barcelona are keen on roping in Verratti, whose current contract at PSG runs out in 2021.
Verratti has been linked with a move away from PSG in the last few transfer windows and now it is believed that he wants to test new waters after the French club failed to retain the Ligue 1 title in the 2016-17 campaign.
Former Pescara star Verratti has also been linked with Juventus and AC Milan but his agent ruled out rumours of a return to Serie A.
But according to Spanish media outlet Don Balon, Real Madrid are now set to hijack Verratti from under the noses of their rivals.
Real Madrid and PSG are in good terms over the course of the last few years but sources reveal that the Ligue 1 club are not willing to do business.
The Barcelona bosses have identified Verratti as a replacement for Andres Iniesta.
The 33-year-old Spanish superstar was not at his best form last season and had suffered several injuries.
And now it seems that the Barca hierarchy are desperate to secure the services of the Italian midfielder, who could step into the shoes of Iniesta.
Don Balon also claims that Lionel Messi has requested the Barca bosses to sign Verratti.
But now it is believed that the Argentine legend would be disappointed as fierce rivals Real Madrid are also in the race for the Italian player.
Earlier last month, Verratti’s agent Donato Di Campli accentuated that it would be complicated for Marco Verratti to part ways with Paris Saint-Germain amid huge interest from Barcelona.
Di Campli said: “It’s very complicated [to leave], but we have expressed our ideas to PSG. We’re not talking about Barcelona or other clubs, it’s about projects.”
“I think I represent a champion and clearly I have questions. To be a champion you have to win.”
“If PSG don’t want to sell him, despite offers from all over Europe, then we’d have to examine our consciences in Italy.”