Liverpool are set to complete the signing of Aston Villa midfielder Stewart Downing in the next 48 hours after the England international submitted a written transfer request, effectively forcing through a move to Anfield.
Downing has been a transfer target for Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish since the beginning of the summer and the signing will take Liverpool's spending towards £100m since Dalglish returned to the club in January. The deal is reported to be an initial £18.5m payment, with the fee rising as performance-related add-ons are triggered.
The 26-year-old becomes the Anfield club's third major purchase this summer, following Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam and means that Villa have lost their two most consistent players, Downing and Ashley Young, in little over a month.
Aston Villa chief executive told The Guardian, "I can confirm that we have reached an agreement with Liverpool following an improved offer and the submission of a formal transfer request by Stewart Downing, and have subsequently given them permission to speak with the player.
"We believe there are replacements available in the market who can strengthen our squad ahead of the coming season, and we are in discussions as such. We are also working hard to conclude a deal for a goalkeeper who we believe can also strengthen the side."
Reports today suggest Liverpool's summer spending is far from complete. Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain is the latest player to be linked with a move to Merseyside. The Real Madrid player has found opportunities at the Bernabeu limited since his return from injury and reports in Spain suggest manager Jose Mourinho is keen to offload the striker to fund a move for Carlos Tevez or Sergio Aguero.
However, with the 23-year-old valued at around £25m, a more likely transfer target is Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge. With rumours today suggesting Kenny Dalglish is closely monitoring the situation at Stamford Bridge with a view to submitting an offer for the England Under-21 international.
Sturridge has grown frustrated at the lack of first team opportunities since joining Chelsea from Manchester City in 2009. He spent the second half of last season on loan to Bolton Wanderers, scoring eight goals in 12 appearances but he is not thought to be in the plans of new manager Andre Villas-Boas and could move in search of regular football this summer.