Liverpool are closing in on a deal for the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Emre Can amid the first, tentative signs of Real Madrid developing their interest in Luis Suárez.

The Uruguay international has long been linked with a move to the Bernabéu stadium and adorned the front cover of edition of Marca, the Spanish newspaper with close links to the European champions, accompanying a report claiming the coach Carlo Ancelotti has given the green light to a move for Liverpool’s leading striker.

Marca said Ancelotti has given his backing to the president Florentino Pérez’s main transfer target following assurances that the France striker Karim Benzema will not be sold.

Marca’s claims will not unduly concern Liverpool, who have not had any contact from Real Madrid or indication from Suárez’s representatives that he wishes to leave Anfield having recently helped bring Champions League football back to the club. Liverpool did not receive an official offer from Real last summer either, despite their interest and Suárez’s determination to leave for a Champions League club at the time.

The PFA and FWA Footballer of the Year attempted to side-step questions about a move to Madrid during a recent publicity event in Barcelona but Anfield officials are aware of Real’s transfer tactics, often involving Marca, and braced for another summer transfer saga surrounding the 27-year-old.

Liverpool showed their resolve to keep Suárez when he agitated for a £40,000,001 transfer to Arsenal last summer and have since secured him on a £200,000-a-week contract until 2018. Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool’s owners, wanted the £40m valuation on Suárez removed during negotiations for his new contract and were determined to protect themselves against a move to another Premier League club.

However, Liverpool have refused to say whether Suárez’s latest deal contains a release clause for a European club. He would be valued in the Gareth Bale, £86m price-bracket after the 31 league goals that underpinned Liverpool’s title challenge and Champions League qualification.

The Anfield club, meanwhile, are continuing to pursue early signings this summer and are in advanced talks over the transfer of the Germany Under-21 international Can. Liverpool agreed to meet the €12m (£9.7m) release clause in the 20-year-old’s contract at Bayer Leverkusen over a week ago.

Despite Bayer’s desire to keep the midfielder and his former club Bayern Munich’s buy-back option, which they have indicated could be activated next summer, Liverpool have made progress on an agreement with Can. The central midfielder would be Brendan Rodgers’ second summer signing following Monday’s capture of the England international striker Rickie Lambert.

The Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Völler confirmed on Wednesday: “Liverpool are interested, the deal would be lucrative and there is a clause in his contract.”

Liverpool have also submitted an improved and allegedly final £25m bid for the Southampton captain Adam Lallana plus a £16m offer for the Sevilla left-back Alberto Moreno.