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Liverpool want Walcott as Sterling stalls on contract talks

Liverpool will aim to lure Arsenal winger Theo Walcott to Anfield this summer as a possible replacement for Raheem Sterling, whose new contract negotiations on the red half of Merseyside have stalled.

Brendan Rodgers’ Reds, even-money with Coral to secure a top four finish, were interested in signing the England international in January 2013, before the former Southampton attacker penned his current £90k-a-week deal.

However, Walcott has began talks to extend his present contract, which will have only 12 more months left at the end of this current campaign, with Gunners boss Arsene Wenger preparing himself for a substantial bid from their top four rivals.

Sterling’s present deal does not run out until 2017 but, with the likes of Premier League champions Manchester City and reigning European champions Real Madrid circling for his signature, Rodgers will hope to tie down the star forward or else make Walcott his main transfer priority.

City were recently dumped out of the Champions League at the hands of Barcelona, who completely outplayed Manuel Pellegrini’s men, leading to a surge in speculation surrounding the Etihad outfit and a host of English talent, including Sterling.

It is believed that the stuttering top-flight champions will tempt Liverpool’s resolve with a potential £50m bid this summer, while they are also set to better the best weekly wage offer of £100k from his current employers in order to force through a move.

Both Sterling and Walcott were recently included in Roy Hodgson’s England squad to face Lithuania and Italy at the end of this month, with the Arsenal attacker only just returning from a serious knee injury which he suffered last January.

Although, the 26-year-old’s ability to play in a variety of attacking roles appeals massively to Northern Irish boss Rodgers, who would also be able to offer the rapid forward plenty of regular first-team action, if Sterling’s departure materialises.

As Walcott causes serious concern at the Emirates over an apparent request for a significant increase in his £90k-a-week wages, and the former Saints winger falling behind Alexis Sanchez in Arsenal’s attacking options, Liverpool looks a likely destination this summer.

The Reds are vying for their first FA Cup triumph since 2006, and are 9/4 to lift the trophy this year, while Arsenal are odds-on 4/5 favourites to retain their cup crown at Wembley.