Manchester City have made an enquiry to West Ham. It was an official enquiry about the availability of top England talent Reece Oxford and would find the 17-year-old very receptive to a move which could cost them as little as £15m.

City scouted Oxford at this summer’s U-19 European Championships and having been impressed by what they saw in the young defender, followed up their interest with an enquiry on Monday night. That puts them ahead of both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in pursuit of the youngster.

Though City have identified central defence as such a major problem that they want to buy both Everton’s John Stones and Juventus’ Leonardo Bonucci, Oxford would be seen as one for the future. He is understood to relish the idea of developing under Pep Guardiola. A £10m bid for the player from Red Bull Leipzig has already been turned down by West Ham this summer. He is not a big earner at the club.

Oxford has two years of his West Ham contract to run but negotiations about an improvement to his terms have not yielded a breakthrough and that may help strengthen the hand of a bidding club. Manchester United are also actively interested and have scouted the player, though Tottenham are thought to be further down the pecking order for a teenager who was given his head by Hammers manager Slaven Bilic last season.

United had had the lead on City this summer in the transfer market. But Guardiola is looking for goalkeeping reinforcements and is interested in Barcelona’s Claudio Bravo, who is disappointed that teammate Marc-Andre ter Stegen will be his club’s number one in every competition next season. Guardiola also likes Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin but Arsenal are unwilling to sell.