JORDAN HENDERSON could be a Liverpool player by the end of the week after the Reds made a significant offer for the Sunderland midfielder.
Sources in the North East have confirmed that a bid has been received for the 20-year-old, who is eager to move to Merseyside as soon as possible.
Henderson, who made his senior England debut last November, will head to Denmark for the European Under-21 Championships later this week, and is desperate to seal his switch to the Reds before then.
Liverpool’s bid is understood to be £11m plus striker David Ngog, with Sunderland holding out for £13m, in addition to the Frenchman.
And with the Reds placing a valuation of £8m on Ngog last month, it would take the overall value of the deal to £21m – an offer that Black Cats boss Steve Bruce has privately admitted would be too good to turn down.
Ngog's presence in the deal is believed to be vital, with Sunderland struggling for attacking options following the departures of Darren Bent and Danny Welbeck already this year.
Bruce had initially been reluctant to see Henderson – Sunderland-born and a product of the club’s youth academy – leave, but with Liverpool making it clear that their interest in the youngster was serious, he has resigned himself to losing his prized asset, and has already earmarked a series of potential targets as he looks to rebuild his squad this summer.
Henderson, who can play on the right of midfield as well as centrally, made his debut at the Stadium of Light in November 2008, and emerged as one of the club’s brightest prospects in recent times.
Nonetheless, the move represents a significant gamble by Reds boss Kenny Dalglish, and his Director of Football Damien Comolli. Henderson only turns 21 later this month, and has just two seasons of top-flight football under his belt.
And the move is not the only one likely to go through at Anfield this week, with Roma goalkeeper Alexander Doni set to join Henderson in making the move to Merseyside.
A fee of about £1m has been discussed for the 31-year-old, and the player’s representative, Ovidio Colucci, says talks between the two clubs are at an advanced stage.
“I spoke to the club (Roma) yesterday and they confirmed they are holding talks with Liverpool to reach an agreement regarding the transfer of Doni,” Colucci said. “Once an agreement is reached between the two clubs, we will begin negotiating personal terms with Liverpool.
“Doni would be very happy to join Liverpool.”
The Brazilian, who has made 179 appearances for the Italians since joining from Juventude in 2005, would provide cover and competition for first-choice Pepe Reina, with Brad Jones certain to leave the club this summer and young Hungarian Peter Gulacsi likely to be sent out on loan in order to gain first-team experience. Doni made 16 league appearances for the Giallarossi last season and has earned 10 caps for Brazil.
Blackburn’s highly rated defender Phil Jones is another target, though Rovers’ asking price of £17m could prove a stumbling block. Jones, like Henderson, will be part of Stuart Pearce’s Under-21 squad for the European Championships later this month, and is believed to have expressed his desire to leave Ewood Park.
Meanwhile, new West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has laughed off reports suggesting he is set to make a move for out-of-favour Reds midfielder Joe Cole. Allardyce said: “I don’t think we could afford Joe Cole. Of course one would love Joe Cole because he is an outstanding player, but he would be too expensive.
Elsewhere, Liverpool have announced that, due to a number of “mitigating issues”, they will not be visiting Korea as part of their pre-season tour of the far East next month.
The Reds had planned to play in Seoul, after initial visits to Guangzhou, China and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, but are now “examining a number of alternatives”.