Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers is eager to improve his Liverpool squad in the January transfer window. Reuters

Liverpool’s attempts to ease their striking shortage with a move for Darren Bent could well be hindered by Aston Villa sticking a reported £18 million valuation on the England international. The Midlands club’s record signing has not even been included among the substitutes in recent weeks, but, according to ESPN, he will not be allowed to leave on the cheap.

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers has admitted that he is looking to increase his attacking options in the January transfer window, with Luis Suarez currently his only fit and established striker. Bent, who has been one of the Premier League’s most reliable goal scorers in recent seasons, has been mooted as a possible Liverpool target.

Villa paid an initial £18 million, potentially rising to £24 million, to sign Bent from Sunderland in January of 2011.

And, despite reports claiming that Villa would listen to offers of £10 million, ESPN sources state that the club is set on recouping close to what they paid for Bent.

“Villa would be willing to sell, but they are not prepared to do any kind of cheap deal,” the source said. “The figure they have in mind is the £18 million they paid for the player.”

With transfer funds not thought to be in plentiful supply at Anfield, it would appear unlikely that Liverpool would be prepared to approach paying £18 million for the 29-year-old.

Liverpool have also been linked with a transfer for Chelsea forward Daniel Sturridge. The 23-year-old was thought to be close to a loan move to Anfield in the summer, but, after enjoying precious little playing time with Chelsea this season, could well be available in January.

Recent reports have claimed that Sturridge is demanding £80,000 a week in wages from Liverpool, while also seeking assurances that he will be played in his favored central striking role, rather than out wide. These suggestions have been denied by the England international’s representatives, Octagon.

"Daniel Sturridge does not conduct his business in public,” a statement read, according to Sky Sports.

"He also does not make demands in any negotiation, with regards to salary or his playing position.

"Any contract between a club and a player has to be based on mutual agreement."

Rodgers may also be tempted to move for Japanese attacking midfielder Keisuke Honda, according to TalkSport. Citing reports in Italy that Honda could be on his way out of Russian club CSKA Moscow, TalkSport suggests that Liverpool could revive their long-standing interest in the 26-year-old.

Honda, who has scored six times in 13 appearances in the Russian Premier League this season, could well provide a much-needed goal threat to the Liverpool side. If Honda does leave CSKA then it is reported that Borussia Dortmund would also be interested in the gifted former VVV-Venlo man.

Other speculation suggests that Liverpool could boost their midfield by bringing back Xabi Alonso from Real Madrid. The Daily Express reports that Alonso’s future at the Bernabeu is in doubt after his failure to negotiate a new contract. According to the story, Liverpool are keen to resign the player they sold for £30 million in 2009 and the 31-year-old would favor a move back to Anfield.

With Alonso still an important player at Madrid and with Liverpool out of the Champions League, such a move appears unlikely at this stage.