Striker Christian Benteke is highly unlikely to join up with Liverpool for any part of their pre-season tour as negotiations continue over his move from Aston Villa.
The Reds travel to Adelaide on Saturday for their third match of pre-season preparations and, with no agreement over the finer details of the Belgium international’s transfer, there is little prospect of him flying out in time to make Friday’s game in Malaysia.
Liverpool triggered the 24-year-old’s £32.5million release clause on Friday, but Press Association Sport understands negotiations are continuing as the clubs try to reach an arrangement over payment terms.
That means he is still waiting to have his medical, scheduled to be held in the UK, and therefore makes flying him halfway around the world to join up with his prospective new team-mates a fruitless exercise.
Manager Brendan Rodgers made Benteke his primary summer target to strengthen his forward line but, after initially refusing to meet the buy-out clause, the sale of Raheem Sterling to Manchester City in a £49million deal prompted a shift in thinking.
England international Daniel Sturridge made just 18 appearances last season after missing virtually the first five months of the campaign with injury, and is likely to be sidelined until at least September after undergoing surgery on a hip problem, so Rodgers wants a striker who can stand up to the rigours of the Barclays Premier League.
He has Benteke’s fellow international Divock Origi, playing his first season in English football after spending last term on loan at Lille, and summer signing from Burnley Danny Ings at his disposal – having decided Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini are all surplus to requirements – but needed some proven firepower.
The club have invested heavily in Hoffenheim’s Brazil international Roberto Firmino, who could cost them up to £29million, but he is not an out-and-out forward and so Rodgers needed to recruit someone else to play as his spearhead.
Liverpool have already bought six new players, including England right-back Nathaniel Clyne at a cost of £12.5million, and Benteke’s arrival would push their summer spending to around £80million.