­Liverpool and Leeds United are in the ‘first row’ of suitors for Udinese midfielder Rodrigo de Paul this summer.

That’s according to Il Milanista, who say that interest from both clubs is an issue for AC Milan, who are also targeting the midfielder.

They explain that with Hakan Calhanoglu’s contract expiring and no progress during talks about a new deal in recent weeks, the club are looking to protect themselves and line up a replacement.

De Paul is the first name on Milan and Paolo Maldini’s list, but Udinese’s €40m asking price is something of a problem.

Embed from Getty Images

Their plan is to outperform the competition, namely the sides managed by Jürgen Klopp and Marcelo Bielsa, by including some of their youngsters as part of the deal.

Whether they can get a deal done remains to be seen, but the interest from England is ‘another negative sign’ for them, with both Liverpool and Leeds said to be providing ‘fierce competition’ for De Paul’s signature.

This is not surprising, given both have been linked over recent months and could do with a midfielder, particularly the Reds, who look set to lose Georginio Wijnaldum.

Either way, it seems both face competition from Milan, who are also planning ahead if they lose one of their key men.