Friday 24 November 2017

Liverpool resume talks with Christian Benteke over £32.5m move

Christian Benteke is a target for Liverpool
Christian Benteke is a target for Liverpool

John Percy

Liverpool have resumed talks with Aston Villa over Christian Benteke but have been warned there will be no deal unless the £32.5 million buy-out clause is triggered.

Benteke remains Liverpool’s primary striker target this summer and dialogue between the two clubs has reopened after Raheem Sterling was sold to Manchester City.

Villa are adamant that they will not accept any offers below the ­figure written into the Belgium ­international’s contract but Liverpool hold reservations about the valuation, which has led to an impasse. Tim Sherwood, the Villa manager, insists Benteke will be staying unless Liverpool pay the required fee but it is widely anticipated that Liverpool will step up their pursuit of the 24-year-old in the next few days.

Sherwood said: “If someone matches that buy-out clause there is nothing we can do about it, but until that happens he is an Aston Villa player and we are all very pleased about that. Liverpool have six or seven strikers at the club so I’m not sure how many more they actually need. We know Christian is a very good player and we want to keep hold of him.”

"It's out of our control because if somebody bids that money, C‎hristian Benteke leaves the football club.

"But we hope he doesn't, we hope nobody bids that money and we hope he doesn't want to go.‎ We hope he knuckles down and we can build something fresh, which is what we're trying to achieve here."

Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood
Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood

Villa are preparing for the new season with Randy Lerner as owner after Sherwood revealed a £150 million sale has collapsed. Lerner has been unable to agree a deal with a mystery consortium, thought to originate from the West Coast of America, and is expected to extend his nine-year spell.

The interested group were granted an exclusivity period last month but negotiations have broken down and Lerner has agreed to back Sherwood in the summer transfer window, even though the American billionaire admitted in May that he would step down as chairman if he failed to secure a sale. It remains to be seen what his next move will be.

Sherwood said: “I think it’s dead now to be honest. It was fairly live but I think the people who were talking are now not there. The chairman is picking it up and running with it now. I’m not sure if anyone is too close now – until it’s done, it’s never there.”

Lerner has already forked out £9 million on Lille midfielder Idrissa Gueye and funded moves for Micah Richards and Scott Sinclair.

The owner has also agreed to pay £9 million for Nice defender Jordan Amavi, who could join Villa later this week. “Randy is the one who is making the decisions regarding the players,” Sherwood said. “He is willing to back us to the hilt. But he can only back us to the tune of financial fair play. That means there might have to be some exits from the club before we can get in some more.”

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