Liverpool and Spurs to tempt Aston Villa with striker swaps?
According to reports, both Liverpool (5/2 with Coral for a top four finish) and Tottenham (5/1) could offer surplus strikers to sweeten any deal with Aston Villa for sought-after sharpshooter Christian Benteke.
Villa have yet to budge on Belgium international Benteke’s rumoured £32.5m release clause, with Brendan Rodgers’ Reds and Spurs believed to be reluctant to fork out such a high fee for the forward.
So, the Premier League big-guns could now change tack by offering their out-of-favour attackers as makeweights, with Villans boss Tim Sherwood currently planning an overhaul of the squad that was demolished by Arsenal in last season’s FA Cup final and escaped Premier League relegation by the skin of their teeth.
Liverpool still have Italy cap Fabio Borini on their books and could attempt to trade the former Chelsea and Sunderland striker in a cash plus player deal for bullish Benteke, despite apparent interest in the marksman from West Ham United.
Borini, still only 24, has shown in flashes that he has a nose for goal, but has found chances hard to come by at Anfield, where he scored just once in 12 league outings last campaign.
The writing appears to be on the wall for the Italian attacker, while clubmate and fellow Reds forward flop Rickie Lambert has similarly found himself starved of opportunity with the Merseyside men, and has also been mooted as bait for a Benteke deal.
As for Tottenham, it is thought Mauricio Pochettino could offload mercurial marksman Emmanuel Adebayor, who the Londoners tried sell back in January, to ex-Spurs boss Sherwood, who has previously proven to be able to inspire his former charge.
Watch Adebayor in action:
Aston Villa have been linked with Adebayor before, but who out of the three forwards tipped to be traded would be the better fit?
Borini, as the youngest of the trio, would appear the obvious match, but would not bring the same physical threat to Villa’s forward line that would be missed should Benteke exit.
Perhaps better as a foil than leading man, the Azzurri international certainly still has potential, and has proven a hero in relegation battle before with former loan club Sunderland, but may be best seeking pastures new as a Hammers hitman, where he would not necessarily need to be the main source of goals.
Ex-Arsenal and Manchester City attacker Adebayor, meanwhile, remains somewhat of a mystery. Formidable when the mood takes him, it would be too much of a risk for Sherwood to put all his eggs in the Togo talisman’s basket, despite their previous relationship. A haul of just two goals last term for the 31-year-old shows a cash injection to bring in fresh faces may be wiser.
Should Sherwood wish to land a proven Premier League striker as part of any deal, however, Lambert may be his best bet. At 33 the Englishman should not want to see out his playing days on the Anfield bench, having seen a switch from Southampton to Liverpool stall his career.
Late-bloomer Lambert can still be lethal in the right set-up and would certainly still be useful at Villa Park, where Sherwood previously helped Benteke get back to his best after injury and a poor patch of form.