Benteke hands in transfer request
Aston Villa have warned Christian Benteke they will not let him go on a cut-price deal after the striker requested a transfer.
Benteke handed in a transfer request on Monday less than a year after he joined Aston Villa from Belgian club Genk on a four-year deal but the Birmingham-based club say the 22-year-old Belgian forward may still play for them in the upcoming season of the English Premier League.
While Villa manager Paul Lambert was 'hugely disappointed', the club made it clear they will only sell Benteke for his full value.
"Having received his transfer request, we have also informed him that should we receive an offer within an appropriate timeframe during pre-season which meets our valuation, we would act upon it," a statement from Aston Villa read.
"But he will remain a Villa player should this not happen.
"He was reminded that there are three years remaining on his contract, we consider him to be a Villa player and expect that he will be with us for the 2013-14 season."
Villa reportedly value Benteke at 25 million pounds, a significant step up from the eight million they paid to secure him from Genk but a fairly reasonable price for the fourth most prolific goalscorer in the Premier League last season.
Benteke scored 19 goals in 34 Premier League games last season and was one of the few bright spots in Lambert's first campaign in charge of Villa.
The 191-centimetre forward was key to Villa finishing above the relegation zone in 15th and with three years left on his contract, Benteke remains crucial to Lambert's plans.
"While we're hugely disappointed that Christian has put in a transfer request, it's important that people appreciate we are trying to build something strong and vibrant here at the club," Lambert said.
"Something this club demands and stands for and we want Christian to be part of that."
Villa flew to Germany for a pre-season camp on Monday and Benteke was not part of the touring party, while it is understood Chelsea and Tottenham are the clubs most interested in the Belgian international.