Christian Benteke
Chelsea have entered the race for Liverpool's primary striker target Christian Benteke.Getty Images

Liverpool are preparing a £30m move for Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke in the summer, according to the Sunday Times.

The Reds have been heavily handicapped by the lack of a prolific striker up top with the departure of Luis Suarez and an injury to Daniel Sturridge which kept him out for the major part of the season. Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli have flattered to deceive in an otherwise disappointing season for the Reds, who have dropped out of the Champions League after finishing second in the previous campaign.

Benteke has earmarked as the man to take them back winning ways, with the Belgian arguably the most prolific striker in the league under Tim Sherwood and has single-handedly hauled VIlla out of a relegation scrap and led them to an FA Cup final against Arsenal on 30 May.

His nine goals in the last eight games has also attracted the attention of Chelsea, who have identified the 24-year-old as a possible replacement for Didier Drogba, who is struggling to live up to his legend status at Stamford Bridge since being brought back into the squad by José Mourinho.

However, Sherwood is confident that the player has his heart set on staying at Villa, who have been extremely patient with the player after a lukewarm start to the season where he was struggling for goals.

"I have no reason to think he is seeking employment elsewhere," Sherwood was quoted as saying by the Mirror.

"I am convinced he wants to be at this club."

Liverpool are also keeping a keen eye on Burnley striker Danny Ings, who has not signed an extension with his current employers and is expected to be available for a nominal fee in the summer. The departure of Steven Gerrard has also exacerbated the need for a central midfielder, with James Milner being linked with a move to Anfield from the home of the 2013/14 Champions.