Brighton & Hove Albion are leading the race to sign England Under-21 forward Cole Palmer on loan from Manchester City.

Palmer was part of the England side that won the European Under-21 Championship earlier this month after beating Spain 1-0 in the final.

City are unwilling to sell Palmer this summer but are open to him spending the next season out on loan which has triggered a frantic race for the 21-year-old’s signature.

Burnley and Leicester are also among the many clubs interested in taking Palmer, who also has interest from overseas, but Brighton are thought to be at the front of the queue at this stage.

Pep Guardiola, the City manager, and director of football Txiki Begiristain are admirers of Roberto De Zerbi’s style of play and believe Brighton would be a good fit for Palmer if he was to leave.

Injury problems and fierce competition for places limited Palmer to just seven starts across all competitions for City last season and there is recognition that he would benefit from more regular playing time at this stage of his career.

City are traditionally wary about sending their brightest young talents out on loan but James McAtee benefited from a season on loan at Sheffield United last season and there is a feeling a temporary move could benefit Palmer.

With Saudi side Al Ahli hoping to sign City winger Riyad Mahrez this summer, it remains to be seen if there is any rethink on Palmer’s situation should the Algerian depart the club, but there is an expectation as things stand that he will leave on loan. If Mahrez was to go and Palmer leave on loan, City would likely look to bring in a replacement.

McAtee is due to be part of the City squad that flies to Asia on Wednesday for the start of their pre-season tour of Japan and South Korea.

The 20-year-old attacking midfielder will be given the chance to impress on tour as Guardiola continues to weigh up his options in midfield.

City have signed midfielder Mateo Kovacic from Chelsea and the Croat will be among the travelling party but Ilkay Gundogan has departed for Barcelona and there remain doubts about the future of Bernardo Silva.