Christian Benteke to Liverpool: Reds ready to tempt Aston Villa by offering Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini rather than pay £32.5m

Liverpool stepped away from negotiating for one of the alternative targets, Sevilla's £21m Colombian Carlos Bacca

Ian Herbert
Monday 29 June 2015 10:43
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Christian Benteke has a £32.5m escape clause in his contract
Christian Benteke has a £32.5m escape clause in his contract

Liverpool maintain hopes that the deadlock could be broken in talks to sign Aston Villa's Christian Benteke, though no bid has yet been placed.

Manager Brendan Rodgers still wants another proven goalscorer to the Liverpool ranks - despite the addition of Brazilian Roberto Firmino last week - and the club are looking to be imaginative as they seek a way through the stumbling block to a breakthrough: the £32.5m escape clause in the Belgian's contract which Villa have set as their valuation and Liverpool categorically won't meet.

The club may look to offer players to Villa as part of a deal, with Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini both forwards who have little prospect of featuring, with Firmino clearly not the only attacking addition heading for Anfield this summer.

The options narrowed today as Liverpool stepped away from negotiating for one of the alternative targets - Sevilla’s £21m Colombian Carlos Bacca - who is now destined for AC Milan instead. The escape clause valuation for Bacca - a 29-year-old with little potential re-sale value - was just not attractive enough to Liverpool. The club also know that negotiations over Zenit St Petersburg’s Venezuelan Salomon Rondon could be complicated, though he remains a possible target if - as has been the case so far - there is no breakthrough on Benteke.

With Manchester City expected to make a third bid for Raheem Sterling any day, another striker will be pursued by Liverpool. The speed with which they wrapped up the Firmino deal revealed a determination to act boldly, to prevent the club being gazumped as they have in recent years for such targets as Armenia midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who went to Borussia Dortmund and Willian, who favoured Chelsea.

Raheem Sterling

The push for Benteke comes against the background of his known desire to leave the Midlands club. The player has indicated that he won’t be signing a new contract to stay beyond the 24 months remaining on his current deal.

Rodgers is thought to believe the Belgian could make a major impact, and would have encouraged Liverpool to launch a bid last summer had the striker not been sidelined with a serious Achilles injury that cost him a World Cup place and kept him out until October. He has scored 49 goals in 99 Villa games since his £7m move from Belgian club Genk in 2012.

Liverpool are also expected to conclude personal terms and a medical leading to the arrival of Southampton's Nathaniel Clyne this week, after a £12.5m bid was accepted.

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