Following the sale of Raheem Sterling to Man City, Wednesday’s papers focus on Liverpool’s pursuit of Christian Benteke.
The reliable Paul Joyce writes that Liverpool holding out for almost the £50 million they wanted for Sterling, makes their move for Benteke all the more intriguing.
Liverpool are currently offering £25 million for the Beglian forward – £7.25 million less than his release fee, with Aston Vila taking the same stance the Reds took with City.
Joyce writes: “There is no logic in hoping Villa, aware Liverpool are flush with cash, lower their fee for a player they do not want to sell simply because his suitors value him at nearer £25m.
“Liverpool must either walk-away and move onto other targets or get ingenious with an incentivised deal that allows Villa to get what they are looking for over time.”
With Liverpool flush with cash, and their need for a goalscoring centre-forward very apparent, Villa are prepared to force the full amount.
Joyce ponders whether Liverpool’s unwillingness to pay what Villa want is due to question marks among the club’s hierarchy over whether he is worth the £32.5 million:
“It might be too simplistic, but being unwilling to spend an extra £7m suggests there is some level of doubt in Anfield’s upper-echelons that Benteke is the answer.”
Stuart James writes in the Guardian similarly:
“Liverpool have been reluctant to make an offer that would automatically trigger a deal for Benteke, with the feeling inside Anfield being that £32.5m exceeds the player’s valuation. ”
Benteke has made it clear to Villa he wants to leave, but the Midlands side are holding out for the maximum fee, as they are right to do so. Will Liverpool pay the fee and get Benteke in early or will they haggle, end up changing target and bringing someone in late like last summer?
Villa boss Tim Sherwood is quoted saying: “I looked the other day. I think they’ve got six or seven strikers at the club now. I’m not sure how many they actually need.”
Of course, of those six or seven strikers, three are unwanted and free to leave this summer – Fabio Borini, Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert – one is perennially injured and can’t be relied upon – Daniel Sturridge – while two have never played a Premier League game – Divock Origi and Roberto Firmino.
Rodgers wants his striking options to be Benteke, Sturridge, Ings and Origi, with Firmino also able to deputise up front if required.