Liverpool have agreed to open talks with West Ham over the potential sale of Stewart Downing, according to the Daily Star.
The England international has two years left on his current contract, and it is thought that by selling him, the Reds will then be free to move for Aston Villa's want-away striker Christian Benteke.
He had been told by manager Brendan Rodgers that he was surplus to requirements and free to find a new club last November, while his place in the team was being given to teenager Raheem Sterling.
That was followed by a turnaround in form for the left-sided midfielder, and after scoring his first Premier League goal for the Anfield club in a home win over Fulham in December, he managed to win his starting place back, and went on to make 45 appearances last season.
But a transfer now would get him off the wage bill, though a loss would have to be expected for the Merseyside club, who paid Aston Villa £20m for his services in the summer of 2011, as part of a spending spree under Kenny Dalglish that saw Luis Suarez, Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson all signed for high values in the same year.
Selling the 28-year-old now would further enhance Rodgers' philosophy of promoting players through the youth ranks, and moving on players as part of a squad overhaul he has tried to introduce since arriving at Liverpool in 2012.
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