Liverpool are turning their attentions to the Juventus striker Fernando Llorente and Seville’s Carlos Bacca after refusing to meet the £32.5 million release fee to sign Christian Benteke from Aston Villa.
Llorente is expected to be made available by the Italian champions, who are reshaping their attack this summer and signing Atletico Madrid’s Mario Mandzukic, while Sevilla have insisted, so far, that Bacca is not for sale.
There is understood to be a €30 million (£21.4 million) release clause in Bacca’s contract, which Sevilla say has to be met, while Juventus may try to hold out for as much as €20 million (£14.3 million) for Llorente but will probably let him go for less.
Liverpool are determined to add to their strike-force and had targeted Benteke, having signed Danny Ings, for a fee to be set by a tribunal but which could be £5 million to £7 million, although they will not bid anywhere near the Belgian international’s buy‑out clause. As that interest has started to cool, possibly to see whether Villa lower their asking price, Liverpool are examining the possibility of signing either Llorente or Bacca.
Llorente, the Spanish international, is 30 while Bacca – a prolific goal scorer in La Liga, who is representing Colombia in the Copa America, where he was sent off with Neymar in the fiery group game against Brazil – is 28.
Although their age does not fit in with the preferred policy of Liverpool’s owners, the Fenway Sports Group, who want to sign younger players, Brendan Rodgers has argued for more experienced quality to strengthen his squad having already brought in 29‑year-old James Milner.
Benteke is 24 and although he emerged as Liverpool’s No 1 target the club do not want to meet the release clause which was inserted when he signed a £50,000-a-week deal two years ago after initially submitting a transfer request amid interest from Tottenham Hotspur. Liverpool wants to pay closer to £20 million, it is thought.
Despite Juventus also being expected to allow Carlos Tevez to leave – and probably return to Argentina to re-join Boca Juniors – Llorente has fallen further down the pecking order with Mandzukic’s impending arrival, for around €18 million (£12.9 million), and the signing of Paul Dybala. They already have Álvaro Morata.
Liverpool are also poised to make a fresh bid for right-back Nathaniel Clyne having had an initial £9 million offer rejected by Southampton, who are holding out for £15 million for the England international. Again Liverpool will not go close to that valuation – Clyne has just one year left on his contract – but may reach a compromise price of £11 million to £12 million.
Southampton has signed Clyne’s replacement after beating Stoke City to the Portugal defender Cedric Soares, who was signed from Sporting Lisbon for £4.7 million.
Liverpool have been linked with a move for the attacking midfielder Roberto Firmino, who is expected to leave German club Hoffenheim with his agent claiming the Brazilian will move to the Premier League. Sources at Manchester United have distanced themselves from claims that the club are negotiating a deal while it is unclear how firm Liverpool’s interest is.
Liverpool have signed Joe Gomez from Charlton Athletic for £3.5 million with the defender, 18, expected to go into the first-team squad with Sunderland signing Sebastian Coates on a permanent deal.
The Liverpool signings come amid the backdrop of the club still holding out for £50 million for Raheem Sterling with the Anfield club having rejected two offers so far from Manchester City – the second of which would have risen as high as £40 million with add‑ons. It is thought City, who does not expect to be in a bidding war with other clubs, will return with a third offer for the 20-year-old.
Rio Ferdinand labelled the £50 million asking price for Sterling, and the fee of £40 million that has been attached by some to Harry Kane, as a “joke” as he weighed into the debate over the value of young English players.
Ferdinand, who broke the British transfer record in 2002 when he joined Manchester United from Leeds United for £30 million, wrote on Twitter: “English players are so overpriced right now, it’s a joke! Kane & Sterling have huge potential, but £40m & £50m? [Sergio] Aguero cost £38m, and Alexis Sánchez cost £32m!”