Belfast Telegraph

Raheem Sterling's Liverpool exit could help usher in Christian Benteke

By Ian Herbert

Raheem Sterling is poised to sign up to a £200,000 a week deal as Manchester City prepare to complete the final stages of his move from Liverpool.

The salary was unconfirmed last night but the England international will certainly vastly increase the £100,000 a week offer Liverpool had made him to stay at the club.

The £49m deal Liverpool have accepted includes add-ons and is close enough to meet the Anfield club's demands for £50m.

The size of the Sterling deal means boss Brendan Rodgers can now press ahead with his own attempts to agree a fee for Aston Villa's Christian Benteke, while Queens Park Rangers - who helped develop Sterling - are also due around 20 per cent of the fee.

The agreement between the clubs came after a frenetic few days of negotiation which coincided with Fabian Delph reversing his decision to leave Aston Villa for City.

The Etihad outfit had been rebuffed with their initial Sterling offers - one of £25m rising to £30m, and the second £35m with add-ons, which took the deal to around to £40m.

City went back with a £44m bid on Friday only for Liverpool to again insist that was too far from their asking price. But the offer of £45m rising to £49m with extras satisfied the Kop hierarchy.

Upon completion of a medical, Sterling is expected to join up with City just a week after twice failing to report to training duty with Liverpool, citing illness and amid threats of disciplinary action.

The capture of the 20-year-old finally delivers on City's promise of the one significant signing chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak had said would be joining the ranks this summer.

The quota of City's homegrown players has become a problem and has strengthened Liverpool's negotiating position. Frank Lampard, Micah Richards, James Milner, Scott Sinclair and Dedryck Boyata have all departed the club this summer.

There was surprise over the weekend by Delph's decision to stay at Villa Park, despite having capitalised on the £8m buyout clause in his contract.

Delph decided to stay put at Villa, where has more chance of playing regular football.

"I'm not leaving," he said. Delph had signed a new deal with Villa last season, taking him through to 2019. But he did travel to Portugal for their pre-season training camp.

"I'm staying at the football club and I can't wait for the start of the Premier League season," the England international added.

Liverpool maintain hopes that the deadlock could be broken in talks to sign Benteke, though no bid has yet been placed.

Manager Rodgers still wants another proven goalscorer to the Liverpool ranks - despite the addition of Brazilian Roberto Firmino last week - and the club are looking to be imaginative as they seek a way through the stumbling block to a breakthrough.

The £32.5m escape clause in the Belgian's contract which Villa have set as their valuation will categorically not be met by the Reds, who may look to offer players to Villa as part of a deal.

Belfast Telegraph


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