LIVERPOOL have reached an agreement with Aston Villa over the payment terms for the £32.5 million 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 agreement has been reached, with Liverpool believed to be paying half the fee up front. 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 yesterday’s friendly against Adelaide United.
Ayre stayed up through the night in Australia to thrash out the final terms of the deal, in which the Reds will pay £16m up front with further payments over the course of the deal taking it up to the full £32.5m.
The signing is seen as a show of support for manager Brendan Rodgers by owners Fenway Sports Group after a robust end-of-season review of last campaign’s sixth-place finish, which resulted in the sacking of assistant manager Colin Pascoe and first-team coach Mike Marsh’s contract not being renewed.
Benteke was Rodgers’ primary transfer target this summer as he wants to add some strength to his attacking options but also needs a front-line striker who can 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 Danny Ings as his frontline options, with Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini deemed surplus to requirements.
Meanwhile, Manchester City have completed the signing of Fulham teenager Patrick Roberts in a further move to boost their homegrown ranks.
Roberts moves for an undisclosed fee, but it is understood City will pay in the region of £5m up front for the 18-year-old, with a further £6m in add-ons.
Roberts is City’s fourth summer signing, and the third Englishman following the arrivals of Raheem Sterling from Liverpool, Fabian Delph from Villa and young Turkey striker Enes Unal from Bursaspor.
City announced the signing via Twitter with a picture of Roberts putting pen to paper but offered no details of the deal. Fulham simultaneously announced the deal, saying: “The club can confirm that Patrick Roberts has joined Manchester City for an undisclosed fee. We wish him the best of luck.”
Roberts played just 22 times for the Cottagers after he made his debut as a second-half substitute against City in Fulham’s 5-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium in March last year.
Fulham had been keen to keep Roberts, but it is understood he handed in a transfer request in order to seal a move to the Premier League club. Roberts has represented England at Under-16, Under-17 and Under-19 levels. He also led Fulham to the 2014 FA Youth Cup final where they lost 7-6 on aggregate to Chelsea.
City urgently needed to add homegrown players to their ranks after the departures of James Milner, Frank Lampard, Dedryck Boyata, Scott Sinclair and Micah Richards left them with only Joe Hart and Gael Clichy before their flurry of moves in the past week.