Liverpool make £32.5m Benteke bid

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Liverpool have made a £32.5m bid to trigger the release clause of Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke.

Chief executive Ian Ayre, in Australia with the Reds’ first-team squad for the second leg of the club’s pre-season tour, is believed to have formally submitted their offer.

He will now continue discussions with Villa over the finer details of the deal but Liverpool are hopeful of a swift conclusion to enable the Belgium international to join up with Brendan Rodgers’ side as soon as possible.

Liverpool changed their stance on the 24-year-old’s valuation on Thursday, having previously maintained they had no intention of paying what Villa were holding out for.

Manager Rodgers had made the former Genk and Standard Liege forward his primary target to strengthen his forward line but Benteke’s price tag was a major stumbling block.

However, after selling Raheem Sterling to Manchester City in a £49million deal there was a shift in thinking as Rodgers was adamant he wanted to add some strength to his attacking options and a front-line striker who could withstand the rigours of the Premier League.

England international Daniel Sturridge made just 18 appearances last season after missing virtually the first five months of the campaign with injury.

He is likely to be sidelined until at least September after undergoing surgery on a hip problem which prematurely ended his campaign in April.

That would have left Rodgers with youngster Divock Origi, playing his first season in English football after spending last season on loan at Lille, and summer signing from Burnley Danny Ings as his two main forwards having decided Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini are all surplus to requirements.

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 despite Rodgers saying 12 months ago, after an outlay of £110million, that there would not be a huge amount of recruitment to follow.

However, the loss of Champions League status and the failure of a number of last year’s signings – plus the sale of Sterling – forced a re-think.