Liverpool improve top-four chances after agreeing Downing fee

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Liverpool have finally agreed to Aston Villa’s transfer demands for Stewart Downing and the England winger is now on his way to Anfield to pass a medical and sort out personal terms.

Aston Villa had always been trying to hold out for £20m for their last player of the season, with Liverpool having an early offer of £15m quickly rebuffed.

Reports suggest that a second offer of £18m was also turned down, but Liverpool have now made a third bid that will reach the asking price.

This is despite new Villa boss Alex McLeish stating recently that Downing was not for sale and that Villa wanted to keep the midfielder for at least another season, as he had two years remaining on his contract at Villa Park, meaning there was no rush to sell.

However, with chief executive Paul Faulkner indicated that Downing had handed in a transfer request, Villa decided that this was the best deal they were going to get, even with Arsenal also showing an interest.

Downing had also lost some face with the Villa fans, who believe he should have shown some more loyalty after the club took a £12m risk on signing him when injured from Middlesbrough in the summer of 2009 and helping to resurrect his career.

The deal will mean the third big acquisition for Liverpool this summer following Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam and strengthen their squad further as they look to break back into the top four.

Liverpool are 1/1 in the Premier League odds to finish in the top four this season, while 10/1 could be a big price that they are crowned champions for the first time.

Meanwhile, if Aston Villa do not spend the Downing money wisely, they could find themselves in another relegation fight and they are 16/1 to finish in the bottom three.

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