Hero to villain? Spurs and Arsenal on transfer alert as Christian Benteke hints at Aston Villa exit: More at www.croozefm.com/sports
“If Villa say I must stay, I won’t necessarily accept that – I do not in any way want to feel I didn’t get the most out of my career” says striker
London calling: Benteke is a target for arch-rivals Arsenal and Tottenham
Christian Benteke has plunged his future into doubt by declaring he is not certain to stay at Aston Villa beyond this summer.
The £30million-rated striker is one of Tottenham’s top summer transfer targets and also on Arsenal’s radar after his 19-goal debut Premier League season saved the Villa from relegation.
For months, Villans manager Paul Lambert has steadfastly maintained his new star is not for sale, and hopes to hand the powerful Belgium international a bumper new contract.
But Benteke has now been quoted in the Belgian media as saying: “If Aston Villa say I must stay, I won’t necessarily accept that.
“I do not in any way want to feel I didn’t get the most out of my career.”
The comments have been interpreted as the opening salvo of an exit strategy, with Champions League-bound Atletico Madrid – poised to sell star striker Radamel Falcao – also interested in the 22-year-old.
Villa are aware of the interview he has given, but remain relaxed as Benteke has three years left on his contract at the club.
Tottenham and Arsenal would have to shatter their respective transfer records – £16.75m for Luka Modric five years ago and £15m for Andrey Arshavin in 2009 – to buy him.
Villa’s top brass are waiting for Benteke to return from international duty to continue talks with his representatives over a contract extension on greatly improved wages.
The hitman went on to enjoy a stunning first season in the Premier League, scoring a hatful and keeping England international Darren Bent out of the side, despite playing in a struggling team.
He was hugely impressive against European champions Chelsea in his final game of the campaign before being sent off for two bookable offences.
Although Benteke’s proposed improved contract would double his £25,000-a-week Villa wages, the in-form striker could more than treble them if he moved to White Hart Lane.
He would also be able to experience European football next season,strengthening his chances of spearheading a much-fancied Belgian side at next year’s World Cup.
Spurs want Benteke to replace Emmanuel Adebayor as part of a summer shake-up and have targeted him for several months.
They see him as an ideal candidate to share the goal-scoring burden shouldered by Gareth Bale this past season.
Arch-rivals Arsenal, meanwhile, have a stack of money to spend this summer and would like Benteke as competition for Olivier Giroud, who scored 17 times 2012-13 – his debut season in England.
Benteke became the first name on the Villans’ team-sheet as the season wore on and, in what will be a World Cup year, wants to continue playing regularly next term.
He added: “Of course playing the World Cup is in my head. But I have no fear of falling out of the team. With my family, I will decide where my future lies.”
Benteke was suspended for last Sunday’s draw with Wigan following his red card against Chelsea, but Lambert said at the time: “Christian, since the turn of the year, is only behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in goal-scoring. He has been fantastic in the way he has been performing.”