Sunderland have tabled a bid in excess of £8million for teenage Ipswich forward Connor Wickham.
Press Association Sport understands the Black Cats have now made a formal approach for the 18-year-old after several days of discussions over his situation.
Reports suggested they had already agreed a package which could eventually amount to £13million, but it is understood their approach was only formalised later on Tuesday.
Sunderland have finally shown their hand over a player in whom they have been maintaining an interest for several weeks amid speculation that Liverpool, among others, are also readying a bid.
Wickham is understood to favour a move to Anfield, but the Reds are yet to make their move, and both clubs are unwilling to become engaged in a bidding war with north London duo Arsenal and Tottenham having also been touted as possible destinations.
Chairman Niall Quinn and manager Steve Bruce will now hope they get the chance to persuade the England Under-21 international that his futures lies on Wearside. The Hereford-born frontman became the youngest player in Ipswich's history when he made his league debut at the age of 16 years and 11 days in April 2009.
He has 72 senior appearances for Town to his name, 35 of them as a substitute, and he scored nine times in last season's npower Championship. Bruce is currently engaged in an extensive summer shopping spree as he attempts to improve upon the club's first top-10 Barclays Premier League finish since the Peter Reid era.
Strikers are one of his main priorities with Darren Bent having been sold to Aston Villa in January, Danny Welbeck now back with Manchester United following his loan spell and Fraizer Campbell facing most of the new campaign on the sidelines with a knee injury.
But a successful swoop for Wickham would land them a player whose potential has alerted a series of interested parties, and it remains to be seen if they can beat off any competitors spurred into action by their bid.
Bruce is hopeful of pushing through moves for Ji and Birmingham midfielder Craig Gardner within the next few days, while he awaits progress on Manchester United trio Darron Gibson, Wes Brown and John O'Shea, for whom he has made a joint offer of more than £12million.