Liverpool will turn their attention to Manchester City winger Adam Johnson after they were priced out of a move for Stewart Downing reports the Daily Star Sunday.
After turning down an initial bid of £15million for Downing, Aston Villa stated the England international midfielder would not leave Villa Park for less than £20million.
And just as the Reds looked to have agreed to increase their offer, the London Metro revealed that Villa officials had hiked the price by a further 25 per cent to £25million.
Kenny Dalglish has made no secret of his desire to bring a wide midfielder to Anfield this summer, following in the footsteps of Liverpool's confirmed acquisitions Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam.
However, after establishing Downing as their number one target, the Reds are no longer prepared to waste time chasing a lost cause and will now attempt to bring Johnson to Merseyside.
City will unlikely want to sell to Liverpool either, through risk of strengthening one of their Barclays Premier League rivals.
But with Johnson struggling to hold down a first-team place in Roberto Mancini's starting line-up, the 23-year-old may favour a switch to Anfield where Dalglish has already proved he is willing to give youth a chance.
However the talented England international will have a difficult decision to make, as Liverpool are unable to offer him the chance to play European football next season, while the Citizens prepare to embark on their first season in the Champions League.
Johnson must way up the benefits of trading a year of European exposure for more regular first-team football, and the decision will ultimately be based around what will best suit his long-term career.
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