By Gianluigi Carrozzini
Juventus have stepped up their pursuit of Christian Benteke, according to a report.
The Italian champions are targeting Benteke for a summer swoop as the likelihood grows that the striker will leave Anfield this summer.
According to Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport, cited by Sky Sports, Juventus want the Belgium international to replace Alvaro Morata.
The Spain international is expected to leave Juve this summer and return to former club Real Madrid as they take advantage of a buy-back clause in his contract.
Morata could then be sold on by the Spanish giants amid strong interest in the 23-year-old from Europe’s biggest clubs, including Arsenal and Manchester United.
Benteke is said to feature prominently in Juventus’ list of striker targets and they have decided to explore the possibility of a transfer even further.
Benteke has had a disappointing debut season at Anfield following his £32.5million move from Aston Villa last summer and there is a growing expectation that he could leave the club after just one year, with West Ham among the clubs who have also expressed an interest.
Liverpool legend Steve Nicol is convinced that Benteke will leave Merseyside this summer and be replaced by Marseille striker Michy Batshuayi, a fellow Belgium international.
“He’s young, scoring goals in Ligue 1 – which doesn’t always translate into the Premier League,” former defender Nicol told ESPN of Batshuayi. “He’s an up and coming player, he’s an international, he’s only 22, he’s got ability, and he scores goals.
“I think there’s a good possibility he goes to Liverpool over Spurs. I think there’s a good chance this kid goes to Liverpool as one Belgian will go out in Benteke, and another will come in, in Batshuayi.”
Benteke had a creditable goals return in his season for Liverpool, scoring 10 goals in all competitions, including nine from just 14 Premier League starts.
But he spent most of the second half of the season behind Divock Origi, Daniel Sturridge and even playmaker Roberto Firmino in the pecking order to spearhead Jurgen Klopp’s attack.
In other Liverpool transfer news, Paris Saint-German are said to be monitoring the Merseysiders’ prize asset.