Relegation bets Aston Villa have rejected a £15 million bid from Liverpool for want-away winger Stewart Downing.
Reds boss Kenny Dalglish is keen to kick-start his summer spending programme having only brought in Jordan Henderson from Sunderland so far.
Downing is high up the list of transfer targets at Anfield given his ability to play on either flank, with wide areas having been an area of weakness for Liverpool for a number of seasons.
However, the Reds will need to up their offer for Downing if they are to prise him away from Villa Park, despite the player’s preference for a move.
Downing has made it clear that he will not be signing an extension to his contract, but given it has two years left to run Villa will feel they are still in a strong position.
Although new manager Alex McLeish is understood to be willing to sanction the sale, he will be looking to bring in as much money as possible to help revamp his rapidly-shrinking squad.
With Ashley Young having already joined Manchester United, Brad Friedel departed for Tottenham and Nigel Reo-Coker, John Carew and Robert Pires all released in May, Villa are deficient in a number of key areas.
After flirting with relegation last year and with the squad weaker now than it was last year, McLeish will need to invest wisely to ensure his side avoid another basement battle.
As it is, Aston Villa odds on relegation are 19/1 with bwin, making them 13th-favourites for the drop.
As such, a successful £25 free bet on the Villans to go down, available to new customers who sign up for a bwin account, would return £500.
Should Downing follow Young out of the Villa Park exit door and McLeish prove incapable of bringing in suitable replacements, then those odds could very well shorten.
New customers can register here to claim a £25 free bet.