Raheem Sterling's exit from Liverpool is all-but inevitable after Manchester City's opening offer of £30m, according to ex-Reds defender Mark Lawrenson.
The Merseyside's have rejected City's first approach for the England international, who has rejected a new contract to stay at Anfield.
Liverpool are adamant Sterling is not for sale but the player's insistence he wants to compete for silverware and the club's failure to qualify for the Champions League makes his future uncertain.
City finished eight points behind eventual champions Chelsea last season in second, but will again play in Europe's premier club competition, while Brendan Rodgers are set for another campaign in the Europa League.
And having signalled their intentions with a heavy opening offer for Sterling, Lawrenson believes Liverpool will only be able to hold City at bay for so long and says Rodgers should begin the search for the 20-year-old's replacement now.
"If Manchester City are offering the region of £30m as a starting bid, it shows they are serious," he told the Liverpool Echo. "Every player has his price.
"And as much as Liverpool have previously said Sterling is going nowhere, there'll be an amount City or some other club will reach that will force the owners to go 'you know what, that's OK'.
"City know he doesn't want to play for Liverpool any more. And don't tell me that City haven't been talking to someone close to the player.
"Fans will grumble at the prospect of losing Sterling, but if you aren't in the Champions League then there's every chance your best players will look elsewhere.
"Liverpool also have to make sure they have a big-name signing lined up before they can contemplate letting Sterling go."