Reds seek Benteke cure

Raheem Sterling signing autographs for supporters on Tuesday, after joining Manchester City. The forward rejected contract offers of £100,000 a week from Liverpool and joined City for £49 million.
Raheem Sterling signing autographs for supporters on Tuesday, after joining Manchester City. The forward rejected contract offers of £100,000 a week from Liverpool and joined City for £49 million.PHOTO: REUTERS

Anfield club will meet player's release clause in bid to boost attacking prowess

BRISBANE - Brendan Rodgers will waste no time in reinvesting the funds Liverpool received from Raheem Sterling's sale as the club are prepared to meet Christian Benteke's £32.5million (S$69.1 million) Aston Villa release clause.

The striker has been Rodgers' top transfer target as he seeks to redress his side's lack of goals after they finished sixth in the Premier League last season. England winger Sterling accounted for seven of Liverpool's 52 league goals last term, with only Steven Gerrard netting more (nine).

According to The Telegraph, the Reds will now make a bid to trigger Benteke's Villa Park exit.

The news comes just hours after Rodgers insisted that his side can cope with the loss of England winger Sterling despite concern that the Anfield outfit are gaining a reputation as a selling football club.

Former Liverpool midfielder Patrik Berger yesterday vocalised the thoughts of many Reds loyalists when he revealed that he is worried that his old employers have been selling their best assets.

Sterling, who rejected contract offers of around £100,000 a week from Liverpool, joined Manchester City on Tuesday, with local media putting the price tag at £49 million, a record for a British player.

Berger, in Singapore yesterday to launch the Singapore Icons of Football Cup golf tournament, believes there is a negative impact on Liverpool from the departures of Sterling and Luis Suarez, who moved to Barcelona for £75 million last summer after winning the Premier League Player of the Season award.

"In the last few years, they have been selling their best players, which is not a good sign for the fans or the club," the 41-year-old said.

"If you want to attract players to Liverpool, they can look up who they bought and sold in the last few years and they sold their best players, which is not a good sign."

Indeed, in the last six seasons, the likes of Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano, Fernando Torres - all Champions League winners with the Anfield side - had also opted to leave the club. But Rodgers yesterday insisted that Liverpool can handle Sterling's departure.

"Players are always going to want to come to Liverpool... I think it's such an iconic club, it's a great club, but the modern game and the market now means that players will move on," he told a press conference in Brisbane, ahead of Liverpool's friendly against the Brisbane Roar today.

He, however, stressed that the club's new signing Roberto Firmino is not a "direct replacement" for Sterling. Liverpool paid Hoffenheim £29 million for Firmino.

While it remains to be seen if that is a good piece of business, Berger believes the Reds have done well to cash in on Sterling.

"If he doesn't want to sign a new deal, such a great deal, then Liverpool did the right thing, they sold him for an unbelievable amount," said the Czech.

"I think even £30 million would probably be a good price, so to sell him for £50 million is an amazing price."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2015, with the headline 'Reds seek Benteke cure'. Print Edition | Subscribe