Liverpool prepared to splash cash on Villa striker.

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Liverpool have moved to fight off Manchester United’s interest in Christian Benteke by agreeing to meet the Aston Villa striker’s £32.5million release clause.

The Anfield club have been chasing the Belgian striker all summer, but have been reluctant to pay out more than £25m and Villa have refused to negotiate.

However, the Reds have now decided to trigger the buy-out clause in his contract after it emerged rivals United were eyeing the 24-year-old as a replacement for Robin van Persie.

Chief executive Ian Ayre is currently in Australia with Brendan Rodgers and his squad for the second leg of their pre-season tour, but is handling negotiations with Villa.

Liverpool have already brought in Nathaniel Clyne, Roberto Firmino, Danny Ings, Adam Bogdan, Joe Gomez and James Milner this summer.

But, having sold Raheem Sterling to Manchester City for £49million, Rodgers was keen to add to his attacking options and had been desperate to do a deal for Benteke.

He now looks likely to get his man, with Liverpool confident of closing a deal for the former Genk star.

Should Benteke’s move be finalised, he will become the club’s second most expensive signing off all-time after Andy Carroll.

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