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Liverpool readying new bid for £32.5m Belgian striker to fend off Chelsea transfer interest

Liverpool are preparing a bid for Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke after Raheem Sterling’s Anfield exit was agreed.

ESPN have revealed that following the £49m agreement with Manchester City for the young winger, Brendan Rodgers is set to increase his efforts to sign the Belgium international – with the funds now available to negotiate a possible deal with Tim Sherwood.

The report states that the 24-year-old has a £32.5m release-clause written into his current contract at Villa Park; however, Rodgers is optimistic that a lower transfer fee can be agreed upon.

Last season was a rather humiliating campaign in front of goal for the Reds as, following the exit of former goalscoring talisman Luis Suarez to Barcelona in the previous summer [via The Guardian], the Merseyside heavyweights failed to adjust to life without the Uruguayan.

Daniel Sturridge was expected to become the leading centre forward at Anfield; however, persistent injury problems throughout the season forced the former Chelsea forward to sit out 42 games [via Transfer Markt] and the England international isn’t set to return to training until September [via BBC Sport].

Meanwhile, new signings Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert offered very little when called upon by Rodgers – scoring just three Premier League goals between them.

What’s more, the duo have been linked with summer exits – Balotelli is a rumoured target for Fiorentina [via the Daily Mail], while Lambert is said to be on West Bromwich Albion’s transfer radar [via The Guardian] – which could leave Rodgers short of firepower come the start of the 2015-16 campaign.

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As a consequence, Rodgers is targeting a top striker in this summer’s transfer window and, according to ESPN, Benteke is the Northern Irish manager’s chief target.

Liverpool have already signed six players – spending £37.3m on Joe Gomez, Roberto Firmino and Nathaniel Clyne, while also securing the signatures of free-agents Adam Bogdan, Danny Ings and James Milner [via Sky Sports] – and the club seem unafraid of further spending in the market.

However, they are set to face competition for Benteke.

According to the Express, Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur all remain interested in the former Standard Liege star.

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