Liverpool agree terms for Christian Benteke

Liverpool have reached an agreement with Aston Villa over the payment terms for the £32.5million (€30.5m) transfer of Christian Benteke.

A bid to trigger the Belgium international’s release clause was submitted on Friday and Reds chief executive Ian Ayre, who is with the squad in Australia on their pre-season tour, has been conducting negotiations over the weekend as to just how and when that money will be paid.

It is understood a satisfactory conclusion has been reached in those discussions, with Liverpool believed to be paying half the fee up front.

The 24-year-old will now undergo a medical, which is likely to take place on tonight or tomorrow morning, As a result Benteke will not be joining his new team-mates for the remainder of their tour, with the squad due to fly to Kuala Lumpur for a match against a Malaysia XI on Friday after Monday’s friendly against Adelaide United.

Ayre stayed up through the night in Australia to thrash out the final terms of the deal, which will see the Reds pay £16m up front, with further payments over the course of the deal taking it up to £32m.

Dr Andy Massey was due to fly home last night from Adelaide to London where the proposed medical will take place.

The signing is seen as a show of support for manager Brendan Rodgers from owners Fenway Sports Group after a robust end-of-season review of last campaign’s sixth-placed finish, which resulted in the sacking of assistant manager Colin Pascoe and first team coach Mike Marsh’s contract not being renewed.

Meanwhile former Villa captain Ron Vlaar will be out of action for up to four months after the free agent defender revealed he had gone under the knife again. The 30-year-old had been hoping to find a new club this summer having allowed his contract at Villa Park to expire, but another setback on his left knee appears to have halted his career prospects in the short term.

Vlaar said: “Even now when I think about it, the news is very hard to swallow.” Vlaar has been linked with moves to Lazio and Southampton.

Elsewhere Manchester City have completed the signing of Fulham teenager Patrick Roberts in a further move to boost their homegrown ranks. City will pay around £5m up front for the 18-year-old with a further £6m in add-ons.

Across the Manchester divide, United are prepared to start the season with Wayne Rooney as their only established senior striker.

Louis van Gaal has sold Robin van Persie to Fenerbahce and decided against signing Radamel Falcao on a permanent basis from Monaco.

That means the United boss has been left with Rooney, unproven youngster James Wilson, and Javier Hernandez, who spent last season on loan at Real Madrid, in the forwards department.

United have been linked with Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, Tottenham forward Harry Kane and Edinson Cavani of PSG. But United are unlikely to bid for another striker before the transfer window shuts on September 2.

Rooney played in midfield at times last season, but it is understood Van Gaal wants to use his captain as a central striker in a 4-3-3 formation this campaign. The 29-year-old played as a lone frontman in United’s tour opener against Club America in Seattle on Saturday.

Van Gaal has also been impressed by Memphis Depay’s shooting technique and free-kicks in training so he believes the £25m winger can replicate the kind of form that saw him bang in 22 league goals for PSV last term. Depay was encouraged by the way he combined with Rooney in the 1-0 win over Club America at CenturyLink Field.

“We have to form a duo and I have the right feeling with him. It’s an honour to play with a legend like Wazza.”

There is also a feeling among senior figures at the club that Hernandez will come good at United this season. Van Gaal revealed the Mexican will join United’s touring party on Saturday and challenged him to show his worth. “He can prove himself again and now Falcao and Van Persie are gone, his chances are better,” the United boss said.


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