With "reports" (otherwise known as unsubstantiated Twitter chatter) last night that Christian Benteke had been spotted in London, home to his two most prominent suitors this summer, there was always going to be a decent chance of new developments emerging in the story of his all-but-certain departure from Liverpool Football Club.
Today, those reports get to drop the quotation marks, as according to the Mirror, a significant next step has been taken towards realizing that departure. Benteke has reportedly not only been given the all clear to talk to Crystal Palace, but has also come to an understanding with the London club on personal terms, pursuant to which the Belgian striker will become the most well-compensated player in Palace's history.
What remains, of course, is for the two clubs to come to a final agreement. Palace have already made not one, but two, significant bids in their attempts to secure Benteke's services. Their most recent attempt, after taking into account performance-based add-ons, was not too far from what Liverpool had originally paid to Aston Villa just a year ago, but Liverpool were rumored to be holding out for a more significant upfront payout.
If the reports are true, it would suggest that the clubs don't anticipate significant barriers to completing their negotiations, and an agreement on the final fee seems more likely than not to emerge in the very near future. Rumors suggest a conclusion to this saga may arrive as early as Monday or Tuesday of the coming week. Having rolled out a number of candidates at the striker position last season with generally underwhelming results, Palace are unsurprisingly keen on locking down a solid option up front - and for all his ups and downs at Anfield, Benteke is more than capable of being that option.
While he never seemed to rise to the same heights that he achieved at Aston Villa, Benteke's 2015-16 output was far from mediocre, and he did contribute to Liverpool's cause with some vital goals in key moments. It was apparent, however, that his strengths and playing style were not an optimal fit for how Klopp wanted the side to play, and his wage bill for the coming season would not make sense for someone likely to be the third or fourth option at best.
With the acquisition of Andros Townsend and Palace's pursuit of Benteke, it would appear that Alan Pardew is attempting to re-create the all-conquering, greatest-of-all-time exploits of Messrs. Carroll and Downing during their time at Anfield. Liverpool supporters will no doubt hope Pardew succeeds in doing exactly that. With this transfer likely to get wrapped up in the very near future, the next great guessing game for Liverpool supporters will be figuring out if, and how, all that money will get spent.