With just 33 miles separating Manchester United from Liverpool, you will not find another rivalry as pronounced as this one and a set of rival supporters who hate each other as much as those of these two clubs. The two most successful clubs in England have been involved in several titanic tussles over the years and are expected to do so again next season in the race for Champions League qualification.
However, recent reports in the Daily Telegraph are suggesting that before the on-field war begins, the two might find themselves embroiled in a mini battle on the transfer front, with United allegedly preparing a huge offer to lure long term Liverpool target Christian Benteke to Old Trafford.
Liverpool’s interest in the Aston Villa hitman is well known, with manager Brendan Rodgers having identified the 24-year-old Belgian International as his primary target this summer in order to resolve the club’s goalscoring woes of last season. With 42 goals in 89 league outings for Villa, and 49 in 101 appearances overall, Benteke has underlined his status as a proven Premier League striker. With the Reds seemingly baulking at Villa’s £32.5 million valuation, the Red Devils have sensed an opportunity to nip in and steal the striker from right under the Reds’ noses.
Louis Van Gaal is also on the lookout for a world class striker or two , after the departures of Robin Van Persie and Radamel Falcao , coupled with the impending sale of Javier Hernandez , have left the Red Devils short in that department. While links have emerged with several high profile long term targets like Thomas Müller and Edinson Cavani, Benteke has now been identified by the wily Dutchman as a more realistic and attainable target, with the club now believed to follow that interest with a concrete offer.
The ace up his sleeve for Van Gaal is the fact that unlike Liverpool, United has the lure of playing in the Champions League for the big Belgian , and will therefore hope to secure a deal at a price well below the quoted £32.5 million.
For all their history and riches, Liverpool cannot realistically hope to compete with United financially, and if an offer from the Red Devils goes in, they are likely to cede defeat and move on to other targets.
If United are successful in landing Benteke , not only will they have weakened the Reds by depriving them of their primary target ahead of next season, but they will also have scored a psychological victory over their rivals that can prove decisive come the end of the season.