Manchester City are prepared to make Raheem Sterling the Premier League's highest-paid player, following growing interest from Real Madrid.
An eye-watering £450,000-a-week deal is could be Sterling's reward for his excellent early season form, which would surpass the £350,000 paid to City's current highest-earner Kevin De Bruyne, and the Citizens believe this should thwart any potential transfer to the Spanish giants.
The England winger is being transformed into one of the world's best under Pep Guardiola and, according to the Sunday Express, his evolution has drawn envious glances from the Real hierarchy who are lining up a £200m transfer.
In the past two seasons, Sterling has reached double figures in both goals and assists to become a key cog in City's ruthless, double title-winning team. He has started the season in the same vein, notching six goals and an assist in the Premier League as well as one of each in the Champions League.
It's been enough for City to offer revised terms, less than 12 months after a contract extension and improved £300,000 per week salary, but his form has also piqued the interest of Real chairman Florentino Perez.
Never afraid to flex Real's financial muscle, Perez has earmarked Sterling as a potential addition to his next wave of Galacticos and a long-term replacement for Gareth Bale.
However, there is a convincing argument that Sterling would lift more trophies by staying put. Domestically, Real have been crowned La Liga champions just twice in the last decade and in European competition they look a shadow of the force that won three consecutive Champions Leagues between 2015 and 2018.
Manchester City, on the other hand, will most likely be judged on their Champions League performance this season - if they fail to close the gap on Liverpool - and you wouldn't bet against Pep getting them closer to the 2020 final.