Liverpool closing on Stewart Downing

Liverpool have moved a step closer to signing England winger Stewart Downing from Aston Villa after the two clubs agreed on a fee.

Former Middlesbrough player Downing has been a key summer target of Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish, and talks with the 26-year-old can begin.

Liverpool said in a statement on their official website: "Liverpool have now been granted permission to discuss personal terms with the player and arrange a medical."

Villa had rejected bids of £12million and £15million from Liverpool, and manager Alex McLeish insisted he wanted Downing to stay in the midlands.

But Liverpool's latest offer, which has not been disclosed by either club but has been reported to be worth £20million, proved irresistible given Downing has only two years remaining on his contract.

Downing made it clear only last month, when on England duty, that he would not sign an extension with Villa.

Arsenal were reported over the weekend to have joined the competition for left-footed Downing, who can play on either wing.

However, Villa denied receiving any offer from the Gunners, and the path appears clear for him to move to Anfield.

Should the deal for Downing be concluded, he would become the third high-profile midfield recruit by Dalglish this summer, following the signings of Jordan Henderson from Sunderland and Charlie Adam from Blackpool.


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