Harry Redknapp is lining up a £5million summer swoop for Ghana star John Mensah as a long-term replacement for departing Portsmouth captain Sol Campbell.
Redknapp was at Craven Cottage last week to run the rule over Rennes defender Mensah, 25, nicknamed 'The Rock of Gibraltar', as Ghana beat Mexico 2-1.
Campbell, 33, is ready to end his two-year stint at Pompey by activating a get-out clause in his £100,000-a-week contract to join Spanish side Villarreal.
Redknapp faces competition from French giants Lyon to secure the services of Mensah, who wants to play regular European football.
Mensah is close friends with Pompey midfielder Sulley Muntari. The pair have grown up together through the international set-up when they were part of the Ghana squad that finished runners-up in the 2001 World Youth Championship.
Ambitious Portsmouth are looking to expand into Europe - by buying into a top Belgian side.
Pompey officials were spotted in Belgium last week and they are believed to be speaking to two clubs who would like an English partner.
The plan is to send top young talent from around the world to Belgium and give them senior football - while getting round work permit restrictions in Britain.