By Merseyside correspondent Cam Downes

Liverpool are preparing a £25million bid for Christian Benteke, Football Insider sources understand.

The Merseysiders will table an opening offer that falls short of the £32.5m release clause in the Aston Villa striker’s contract.

Liverpool face competition from Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham to land Benteke, who will be one of the most in-demand targets of the summer window.

Brendan Rodgers and the Anfield recruitment team have identified Benteke as one of their principal summer targets as they attempt to overhaul their forward line.

The Merseysiders are confident of winning the race for Danny Ings after agreeing terms with the Burnley striker, while Divock Origi will make a permanent move to the club after completing a season-long loan at Lille.

In addition to Benteke, Liverpool are also keeping close tabs on the likes of Arsenal’s Theo Walcott and Borussia Dortmund duo Ciro Immobile and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

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.

Villa face a battle to hold on to Benteke after Tim Sherwood admitted this week the existence of the release clause in his contract, which is understood to be £32.5m.

The Belgium international finished the season impressively, scoring 12 goals in Villa’s last 14 matches to end an injury-interrupted campaign with 15 goals.