Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has already accomplished quite a bit in the first week of the summer transfer session, bringing Roberto Firmino, James Milner, Danny Ings, and Nathaniel Clyde to Merseyside. But the two moves that could very well define the Reds next English Premier League term are still up in the air.
Rodgers and Liverpool officials are inching closer to deals that would ship winger Raheem Sterling to Manchester City, and in turn those funds could result in the acquisition of Aston Villa forward Christian Benteke.
Starting with Sterling, whose contract dispute greatly mucked up the second half of Liverpool’s sixth-place campaign, Daily Star reports City believes it can work out a final deal for the talented young scorer by next week.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side is “hopeful” the deal can be struck in the middle of City’s pre-season tour in Australia, allowing the 20-year-old to get some time in with his prospective teammates.
Nevertheless, The Star indicates that City’s two bids, reaching as high as £40 million, have both been rejected with the Anfield side holding out for £50 million. The huge valuation has to do with Sterling’s potential, given he’s scored 16 of his 18 career Premier League goals the last two seasons and could be poised to dominate the pitch in the next year or two.
But Etihad officials think Liverpool will eventually pull back to £45 million in cash, with a £5 million kicker depending on how well Sterling plays.
Squeezing as much out of City for Sterling should eventually allow Liverpool to pry Benteke away from Villa Park. The Belgian stud scorer, who tallied 12 goals in the final three months of the season to singlehandedly keep Villa out of relegation, told manager Tim Sherwood that he no longer wants to remain with Villa, according to The Guardian.
Benteke, 24, wants to play for trophies, not cling to the bottom of England’s top league like he has for the last three years. He all but stole any sort of leverage Villa may have had during negotiations with Liverpool by expressing his desires to Isherwood, but Villa are still unlikely to budge from the £32.5 million release clause in Benteke’s contract.
The Guardian’s report stresses Liverpool actually believe that valuation is too high, and have threatened to consider other players if a deal can’t be struck. But with Sterling on the cusp of leaving, the Reds attack lacks a major scoring threat and Rodgers might have to budge a little in order to land Benteke.