Liverpool eye Copa trio as Benteke pursuit ends

Liverpool are keeping a close eye on the Copa America as they pursue their interest in South American trio Roberto Firmino, Carlos Bacca and Salomon Rondon.

The club have a delegation at the tournament in Chile as they look to bolster their summer recruitment and the Hoffenheim midfielder and Sevilla and Zenit St Petersburg strikers are all viable options.

Manager Brendan Rodgers is keen to bring in another forward despite the arrival of England U21 international Danny Ings from Burnley and the £32.5 million (€40m) release clause of Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke is considered too high.

Therefore he has turned his attention to Bacca, the 28-year-old Colombian who scored 28 goals in La Liga last season, and Rondon, a Venezuela international who has 20 goals in 39 matches for Zenit.

The club believe both represent better value for money, with reported fees of £20m (€28m) and £15m (€21m) respectively.

Brazil international Firmino, 23, would also add some quality to a midfield which has lost captain Steven Gerrard to a new career with Los Angeles Galaxy and his agent Roger Wittmann has already confirmed he is destined for the Premier League, telling German newspaper Bild: “All I can say is that he will go to England.”

Liverpool’s South American activity comes with the future of Raheem Sterling still uncertain.

Manchester City’s football development executive Patrick Vieira rates Sterling highly and believes the club’s interest in the Liverpool forward is understandable.

City have already had two offers — the latest worth £40m (€56m) — rejected but reports suggest they are preparing a third for the England international.

Liverpool value the 20-year-old, who still has two years remaining on his current deal but has refused to sign a new contract, at over £50m (€70m).

And while some have criticised that valuation Vieira is a fan of the youngster. “I think if you go down and ask 10 people what they think about him, I think nine would give you a positive answer,” Vieira said.

“I would be part of the nine people because he’s shown how good he is, how well he’s been doing at Liverpool.

“If he is in the market, not just City would be interested in him.”

Meanwhile, Pepe Reina has returned to Napoli on a permanent basis after leaving Bayern Munich.

The former Liverpool goalkeeper, who spent a year on loan at the Stadio San Paolo in 2013-14 before moving to the German side, is now back in Italy.

“Pepe Reina is a player of Napoli,” Napoli announced on their website.

“The Spanish goalkeeper had a medical at Villa Stuart this morning, accompanied by team doctor Dr De Nicola, and then signed the contract with President De Laurentiis.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Reina spent nine years at Anfield from 2005 to 2014, winning the FA Cup, League Cup and Uefa Super Cup in that time, before making way when the Reds brought in Simon Mignolet.

He rejoined former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez at Napoli on loan and was part of their Coppa Italia winning side, before he joined Pep Guadiola’s Bayern Munich as Manuel Neuer’s understudy.

But after one year at the Allianz Arena he has now agreed to return to Napoli, despite Benitez’s recent departure to take charge of Real Madrid.

In other transfer news, Newcastle target Bas Dost has been urged to stay where he is by Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking.

The 26-year-old has been linked with a summer switch to St James’ Park as new head coach Steve McClaren attempts to rebuild a squad which ended last season battling relegation.

McClaren knows Dost from his time in the Eredivisie, but Hecking is determined to keep the forward in Germany.

He said: “Why would he go there? He can play next season in the Champions League with us. He will probably [play in the Champions League] neither in this nor in the next or the next year at Newcastle.”

Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley is also facing a battle to land Georginio Wijnaldum after neighbours Sunderland entered the race for the PSV Eindhoven midfielder.

Sunderland counterpart Dick Advocaat himself is understood to have made contact with the Dutch club to register his interest in the 24-year-old.

In the process, he has firmly thrown down the gauntlet to Newcastle and Charnley, who has been charged with the task of doing the deals by owner Mike Ashley after identifying targets in a series of meetings with McClaren and chief scout Graham Carr.

Elsewhere, Swansea have completed the signing of Sweden goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt.


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