Premier League giants Liverpool are the target of an 800 million pounds ($1 billion, 924 million euros) takeover bid backed by the Chinese government, British newspaper the Sunday Times reported.
China Everbright, a state-backed financial firm, are leading the bid, backed by the country’s main sovereign wealth fund, the China Investment Corporation (CIC), the paper said.
Talks between the Chinese group and Liverpool’s American owners, the Fenway Sports Group (FSG), are ongoing, the Sunday Times said.
But a senior Liverpool source told AFP that although the club was open to outside investment, FSG was not in talks and the club was not the subject of a bid.
On Friday, Liverpool chairman Tom Werner said the club was “not for sale”, but admitted FSG were open to the idea of selling a stake.
FSG bought Liverpool for around 300 million pounds in 2010.
China has been making inroads in English football in recent months.
Earlier this month, Liverpool’s Premier League rivals West Bromwich Albion announced a deal to sell the club to a Chinese investment group headed by entrepreneur Guochuan Lai.
Second-tier clubs Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers, both of whom play in the same Midlands region as West Brom, have both been taken over by Chinese investors.
Wolves were bought by Fosun International, while Chinese businessman Tony Xia took charge of Villa.
Birmingham City, another Midlands clubs, are currently in talks with Asian investors seeking to buy the club from Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung, who was jailed for money-laundering in 2014.
Meanwhile, Manchester City announced a 265 million pounds investment deal with Chinese consortium CMC last December.
Liverpool, managed by Jurgen Klopp, were beaten 2-0 at Burnley in their second league game of the season on Saturday, having won 4-3 at Arsenal in their opening fixture. – Agence France-Presse