By Merseyside correspondent Cam Downes

Liverpool have made a £32.5million bid for Christian Benteke to trigger the release clause in his Aston Villa contract, Football Insider sources understand.

The Merseysiders have offered the full sum of the striker’s release clause with the bid tabled today and are now set to make him their most expensive summer signing.

Just days after selling Raheem Sterling to Manchester City for £49millon, Liverpool have made the formal move for Benteke following weeks of talks with Villa.

Brendan Rodgers’ team have made their move after being alerted by Manchester United’s interest in the Belgium international.

United are in the market for new two strikers following the departures of Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao, with the likes of Benteke and Edinson Cavani on their target list.

But it is Liverpool who are set to capture the 24-year-old, assuming they can agree terms with the player and complete the formalities of the deal.

Liverpool first made contact with Villa with a valuation of £25million, but the Midlands side were never interested in dealing at that price.

Liverpool have had to relent and pay the full £32.5million to land their number one summer target. The Merseysiders been the busiest Premier League club in the summer transfer window, signing seven new players, including a new forward in Danny Ings.

But Brendan Rodgers and the Anfield recruitment team have wanted another senior striker to provide competition for Ings, Divock Origi and the injury-prone Daniel Sturridge.

They are set to land their man within days. Villa manager Tim Sherwood has admitted there is nothing he can do to stop Benteke leaving the club.

“There’s a buy-out clause in his contract so it will be impossible for us to stop him if he wants to go,”  Sherwood said ahead of the FA Cup final in late May. “Someone’s got to meet that buy-out clause and if they don’t it won’t be considered because we don’t want to lose him.”

As revealed by Football Insider in March, Liverpool will free up space in their squad by listening to offers for Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini this summer.

Balotelli is in talks with Fiorentina after being left out of the Liverpool squad that left the UK last Sunday to tour Australia and the Far East.

Benteke finished last season in impressive form, scoring 12 goals in Villa’s last 14 matches to end an injury-interrupted campaign with 15 goals. He was also caused the Liverpool defence huge problems in Villa’s FA Cup semi-final win at the end of the season.