Liverpool transfer news: Roberto Firmino signing paves way for Raheem Sterling's move to Manchester City
Liverpool set to offload young winger after arrival of Brazilian
Liverpool are preparing for a third bid from Manchester City for Raheem Sterling after completing the £29m signing of Hoffenheim's Brazil international Roberto Firmino.
Firmino has become the fifth summer recruit at Anfield in a major coup for manager Brendan Rodgers, becoming the second most expensive signing in the club's history.
The attacking midfielder's arrival only increases the prospect of Liverpool accepting Sterling's departure, as Manchester City consider an improved offer for the England international.
Liverpool insist Firmino's arrival is not dependent on Sterling's sale but the Merseyside club are bracing themselves for another approach from City, nearer to their strict £50m valuation.
City have failed with two bids for the 20-year-old but are expected to return in the next few days - and there is a sense the Eastlands club are the only serious contenders to sign him and that a deal can be done at the right price.
A bid close to the £50m price tag would reluctantly force Liverpool into doing business and the capture of Firmino suggests they are already resigned to starting next season without Sterling.
Firmino, 23, can play in midfield or as part of an attacking three and scored seven goals for Hoffenheim last season, also contributing more assists than Sterling. He has signed a five-year contract at Anfield.
With Brazil competing in the Copa America in Chile, Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre, flew out to Santiago to meet Firmino and his representatives and is understood to be delighted that a deal was concluded in such a short space of time.
Firmino has asked for the No 11 shirt, which is the same number he wears for Brazil.
Liverpool are prepared to add further attacking reinforcements for next season and also have Seville's £20m Colombian Carlos Bacca and Zenit Saint Petersburg's Venezuelan Salomon Rondon under consideration.
Real Madrid are also expecting the Merseysiders to renew their interest in Denis Cheryshev, a Russian winger who spent last season on loan at Villarreal, if they lose Sterling.
Ayre is staying on in Chile for an additional day so as to be in position to progress moves for additional attacking options.
Bacca, who is also on Manchester United's radar, scored 20 La Liga goals for Sevilla last season and netted twice in the Europa League final victory over Dnipro.
Sevilla are insistent that Bacca will leave only if his £21m release clause is met and it is unclear whether United or any other English club are prepared to pay that fee.
United are in the market for a striker and, while Bacca may not be among their top targets, the Old Trafford club have taken soundings on what it would need to bring the 28-year-old to England.
Having decided against signing Chelsea-bound Radamel Falcao and with Robin van Persie's future in doubt, United want to sign a new forward to share the goalscoring burden with captain Wayne Rooney.
Harry Kane and Karim Benzema are understood to be United's top striker targets, but Tottenham insist their star man is not for sale and Benzema will attract plenty of interest if he is allowed to leave Real Madrid.
Should moves for Kane and Benzema fail, then United could yet turn to Bacca .
Another Liverpool target, Christian Benteke, has told Aston Villa he will not sign a new contract but is facing the prospect of staying at the club for another season.
Benteke is ready to leave Villa Park this summer, after three successive seasons battling relegation, to pursue his ambition of performing in European competitions.
This month the Belgium international informed Villa, via his representative, that he had no plans to sign an improved £70,000-a-week deal which would have made him the club's best paid player.
Manchester United and Chelsea have shown interest in the 24-year-old but he is not considered a priority, leaving Liverpool as the only serious contenders to sign him at this stage.
However, with Liverpool reluctant to meet Benteke's £32.5 m release clause, there is a genuine possibility that the forward will be starting next season with Villa.
Tim Sherwood has frequently claimed that Benteke's career would be best served by staying at Villa for another year to guarantee him first-team football ahead of Euro 2016.
© Daily Telegraph, London