Middlesbrough are eyeing a January move for Brentford’s Romaine Sawyers, who is also wanted by Aston Villa.
Boro boss Tony Pulis is searching for more creativity and sees Sawyers as the perfect man to aid a promotion push.
Pulis is also interested in Brentford striker Neal Maupay, although the Bees would be looking for a sizeable fee for the Frenchman.
Brentford have no plans to sell Sawyers either and are ready to turn down offers from both Boro and Villa unless a sky-high bid comes in.
Midfielder Sawyers has 18 months left on his contract at Griffin Park and, while Boro are yet to make an offer, they are mulling over a switch this month.
Aston Villa also remain keen on the St Kitts and Nevis international and head coach Dean Smith worked with Sawyers at Brentford and Walsall.
But Villa are unlikely to be free to move until the summer with Smith needing to sell first having inherited an unbalanced squad when he joined from Brentford in October.
Sawyers has made 115 appearances for the Bees, scoring eight times, since joining on a free transfer from Walsall in 2016.
He offers the imagination Pulis is looking for with Middlesbrough having scored just 28 goals in 26 league games – the same amount as second bottom Reading.
But they still sit fifth in the Championship, six points behind the top two, ahead of Saturday’s trip to Birmingham.
Midfielder Jonny Howson is yet to score in 26 appearances this term, while Stewart Downing has netted just twice, and Pulis is searching for more goals.
Britt Assombalonga is Boro’s top scorer with eight goals and fellow forward Martin Braithwaite joined Leganes on loan last week.