Struggling striker Christian Benteke is “all but gone” from Liverpool, according to Phil Thompson.
Benteke was signed by Liverpool from Aston Villa for £32.5million in the summer, but has failed to establish himself as the first-choice striker at Anfield.
Daniel Sturridge has been handed more playing opportunities since his return from injury in October, while Roberto Firmino has impressed as a lone striker.
Compatriot Divock Origi has also emerged as a more suitable striker under the style of Jurgen Klopp, with Benteke’s last Premier League start coming on January 2.
Former player and assistant manager Thompson believes that Benteke will leave the club in the summer.
“You don’t need to be an expert or an insider to see that Benteke will be looking to move on in the summer,” Thompson told Sky Sports. “We’re all trying to read between the lines and I don’t know anything definite but it looks like he’s all but gone.
“I would say for the sake of his own career he needs to leave. He’s got the Euros coming up and he’s going to be sat on the bench with Romelu Lukaku starting and he won’t want the same to happen next season.
“He can’t do the pressing game that Jurgen Klopp demands and you can’t have £32.5m strikers sat on the bench playing a bit part.
“Danny Ings is coming back as well and he’s more suited to doing what Klopp expects, so Benteke could find himself fourth in the pecking order.”
Thompson believes Benteke, who has seven league goals for the Reds this season, will head to the Chinese Super League.
“Football is stranger than ever but I still think it would be highly unlikely that they’d sell to Everton. I remember back when I was youth team coach we sold Peter Beardsley to Everton and I thought it would come back to bite us, which it did.
“The way the Chinese market is going you’d think that is the most likely source for Liverpool to recoup the fee they spent on him. I’d imagine it will be a similar case for Mario Balotelli.”