Liverpool close in on Benteke

Liverpool have been pursuing a deal for the 24-year-old for much of the summer as they look to add some firepower to a side which scored 52 league goals last season.

And it appears that Liverpool have now accepted Villa will not budge on their valuation of the striker, who has scored 49 goals in 101 appearances since joining the club from Genk in 2012.

Sky Bet have already suspended their market on Benteke’s next club after Liverpool were backed at as short as 1/10 to sign him.

Reports over the last 48 hours had suggested Manchester United could turn their attention to Benteke as they attempt to reinforce their striking options following Robin van Persie???s move to Fenerbahce and the end of Radamel Falcao???s loan last season.

United???s reported interest may well have prompted Liverpool to meet Villa???s asking price as manager Brendan Rodgers puts the finishing touches to his summer recruitment ahead of next season.

Liverpool???s bargaining position is likely to have been further weakened by the sale of Raheem Sterling, who joined Manchester City for ??49m ??? a record fee for an English player ??? on Tuesday.

Earlier this week, Villa boss Tim Sherwood said he wanted to keep Benteke but admitted the club were powerless if a bid of ??32.5m was received.

He told told??Sky Sports News HQ:?????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.

???I think Liverpool ??? I looked the other day ??? have six or seven strikers at the club. Now I???m not sure how many they actually need. We know Christian is a very good player and we want to keep hold of him.”

If Benteke moves to Anfield in a ??32.5m deal he will become the second most expensive signing in the club???s history, behind Andy Carroll who was signed for ??35m from Newcastle in 2011.

Liverpool signed striker Danny Ings from Burnley earlier this summer and have also welcomed Benteke???s compatriot Divock Origi to Anfield after he remained on loan at Lille after signing for the club last year.

Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino has also joined the club as well as England midfielder James Milner, defenders Nathaniel Clyne and Joe Gomez and goalkeeper Adam Bogdan.

If Liverpool complete a deal for Benteke attention will shift to departures from Anfield with strikers Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert seemingly surplus to requirements.