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Liverpool buy Benteke after activating Aston Villa release clause

Liverpool, 9/4 to finish in the top four finish with Coral, have signed Aston Villa and Belgium frontman Christian Benteke on an long-term deal after activating the reported £32.5m release clause in his Aston Villa contract.

“I’m very happy to be here and I would like to thank the owners, Ian [Ayre] and of course the manager for their massive effort to bring me here,” Benteke said. “I think it was the right club for me because I had a good chat with the manager and I wanted to be part of his project.

“I think when I came here with Aston Villa [it was] a great feeling to play at Anfield. Now, to be in the home shirt is going to be an exciting feeling.”

The prized asset of the West Midlands outfit, Tim Sherwood had hoped to persuade 24-year-old Benteke to stay at Villa Park, but the Reds became willing to pay the required fee to secure his services after selling Raheem Sterling to Manchester City for £49m.

Benteke put together deadly form in front of goal at Villa towards the back end of last season, netting a dozen in as many matches as they staved off Premier League relegation and reached the FA Cup final.

He is now set to lead a Liverpool frontline that also contains £29m summer signing Roberto Firmino, English trio Danny Ings, Rickie Lambert and sidelined Daniel Sturridge, and Benteke’s fellow Belgium international Divock Origi.

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers thus has plentiful attacking options, so although Italian duo Mario Balotelli and Fabio Borini are both also still on the books, their time at Anfield appears to be up now.