Lambert keen to secure future of Christian Benteke
Paul Lambert says Christian Benteke can fulfill his World Cup dreams at Aston Villa, and hopes to tie the striker down to a new contract.
The Belgian striker has been a revelation since arriving at Villa Park in August, with his goals firing the club to Premier League safety and Lambert is keen to keep the striker at the club.
Benteke has scored 19 times in the league in a tough campaign for Villa in which he has had to play a lot of matches on his own up-front and his manager was full of praise for him.
"Christian is one of a few who have been brilliant for us, as a team and individuals," he said. "We're coming to the end of the season and yes, we'll sit them down and try to get things done.
"Christian and a few other lads are in my thinking."
Benteke's form has seen him earn international recognition from Marc Wilmots. He has played all five internationals this season and his two goals have helped push Belgium to joint-top of their World Cup qualifying group.
Belgium have not qualified for a major competition since 2002 when they reached the last 16 in Japan and South Korea, and Lambert believes staying at Villa will help Benteke make the 2014 squad if Belgium qualify for Brazil.
"Going to the World Cup is a major thing for any footballer and Belgium have one foot in it," he continued. "I am sure it'll be a big priority for him
"You always move football clubs but it’s always a gamble, you don’t know if it’s going to work. It might look great on the outside but you’ve got to go into an environment at the right place, right time and have right people about you for your career to kick on.
"All you can do is put him on the right path and tell him experiences of what people have gone through. He's a down-to-earth guy, he's humble - that's the one massive trait for him. We'll see what happens."
While Lambert is keen to keep hold of his striker, the future of others in the squad are less certain. Lambert is keen to remove some of the higher earners at the club to free up space for some new arrivals, but insisted those who had impressed this season would be rewarded.
"I think if anyone does well you reward them, that's normal," he added.
"We expect to hold meetings with various people next week and sort through things. We don't expect it to be too complicated.
"The days of big summer signings have gone. We have stripped it right back. We want players who are hungry. I look at players with character, not those who just want money,"