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The highly rated Irish star has his heart set on a move to Anfield and could be the Reds' first summer signing as talks between the two clubs reach an advanced stage

EXCLUSIVE
By Greg Stobart | Northern Correspondent

Liverpool are closing in on making James McCarthy their first summer signing after the midfielder told Wigan Athletic he has his heart set on a move to Anfield, Goal.com can reveal.

Kenny Dalglish is a huge admirer of the 20-year-old and the Reds are believed to be willing to spend as much as £10 million to land one of the brightest prospects in the Premier League.

Chelsea are also understood to have registered an interest in McCarthy but Goal.com understands the player has told Wigan executives he wants them to reach an agreement with Liverpool.

Wigan had initially asked for £16m for the Republic of Ireland international but there have been indications that they are now ready to soften their stance, with manager Roberto Martinez promised he can re-invest money raised from player sales.

“It is 90 per cent done, all sides now seem to accept it is going to happen and it's a matter of everyone trying to get the best deal,” a source close to the talks told Goal.com.

McCarthy turned down a move to Merseyside before joining Wigan for £1.2m from Scottish side Hamilton Academical in 2009 as he felt regular football would be better for his development. He now believes he has proven he is ready to take the next step and leave the DW Stadium.

McCarthy is under contract until 2014 but Wigan are regarded as a selling club by other English sides following the high profile transfers of Antonio Valencia and Wilson Palacios to Manchester United and Tottenham respectively.


Liverpool-bound | James McCarthy has his heart set on a move to Anfield

While the Latics' financial game plan is based on selling players for a huge project, Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group want to build a squad based on the best young British talent.

McCarthy, who was born in Glasgow and can play either centrally or wide, fits that billing and Reds director of football Damien Comolli agrees with Dalglish that he will be a star of the future.

“Liverpool have shown the most interest for quite a while and have convinced him that it will be the best move to fulfil his potential,” the source added. “Being a Glaswegian from a Celtic-supporting family, working with Dalglish is obviously a big factor as well.”

Anfield legend Dalglish took over from Roy Hodgson in January and is planning significant moves in the summer transfer market after signing a three-year contract last month.

Along with Comolli, the club have identified a number of targets as they look to bolster the squad by signing at least two wide men, a central midfielder, a left-back and a centre-back.

Aston Villa star Ashley Young is their No.1 target as Dalglish looks to bring in a new winger, with Sylvain Marveaux also expected to arrive from Rennes on a free transfer. The Reds have also registered an interest in £20m-rated Eden Hazard, the attacking midfielder at Lille who is a target for a number of leading European clubs.

Liverpool have shown a strong interest in Bolton centre-back Gary Cahill and Blackburn's Phil Jones, while Newcastle star Jose Enrique is their first choice left-back.

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