Downing made his debut for the senior England team in 2005
Liverpool have had a £15m bid for Stewart Downing rejected by Aston Villa, BBC Sport has learnt.
It is believed that Villa are holding out for an offer of about £20m for the 26-year-old England winger.
Downing, who arrived from Middlesbrough for £12m in 2009, has stalled on contract talks and boss Alex McLeish appears to be willing to let him go.
The player has also been linked with a move to Arsenal but Liverpool are the favourites to sign him.
Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish is eager to strengthen his squad following a disappointing sixth-placed finish in the Premier League last season and has already brought in midfielder Jordan Henderson from Sunderland.
The Scot now has his sights sets firmly on Downing, who would bring pace and flair to a Reds side that lacked creativity and thrust last term.
Downing may believe a move to Anfield would also help him become a first-team regular for England - a target he has made explicit recently.
Despite having been capped 27 times by his country, Downing recently admitted: "I am rebuilding my international career. I've been in and out of squads since I made my debut."
He also said that last season with Villa was "disappointing" - they finished ninth - and although Villa have a new manager in McLeish, the club is entering a transitional phase.
Many Villa fans objected to the arrival of McLeish from Birmingham and if Downing leaves Villa Park, following the departure of Ashley Young to Manchester United, there is likely to be further unrest.