Reported Arsenal target Chrsitian Benteke has been challenged by manager Paul Lambert to remain at Aston Villa and prove that he is not a “one-season wonder.”
Benteke, 22, has been nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year Award after a fine debut season following his arrival from Genk last summer. Having scored 15 goals in the Premier League, the Belgium international has been linked with the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham, as well as the Gunners.
Lambert, though, wants to see Benteke keep finding the goals for Villa.
“I’m not bothered if he’s nominated or not, as long as he’s performing for this club,” Lambert said, according to the Daily Mail. “We’ll have to wait and see whether he wins it.
“However, I don’t think it’ll affect him one bit. If he remains the way he is at this minute, he’ll do very well for himself. “And I don’t want to pile too much pressure upon him. He’s only a young guy learning his trade. He’s made mistakes like everyone else but his performances have been very good.
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“No doubt we’ll look at his contract at the end of the season. I just don’t want him to be one-season wonder.”
Benteke’s future could well hinge on whether Villa are able to escape relegation; they currently sit just three points clear of the drop zone.
And Benteke is not the only Villa player to be linked with Arsenal of late. The Sunday People states that Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is eagerly monitoring the performances of right-back Matthew Lowton.
It has been widely reported that Wenger may be set to dispense with Bacary Sagna this summer, with the France international set to enter the final year of his contract. Several names have been linked and the 23-year-old former Sheffield United man has now become the latest.
Although playing in a struggling side, Lowton has shown promise and earned headlines with a stunning long-range volley against Stoke City earlier this month.
Meanwhile, the Sunday Express has become the latest publication to link Arsenal with a move for young Schalke midfielder Julian Draxler.
The 19-year-old is seen as one of Europe’s brightest talents and has already appeared for the senior Germany side. The Express claims, however, that Schalke will allow the creative talent to leave for £15 million.
In other rumors, Arsenal are one of the clubs said to be interested in Fiorentina playmaking midfielder Borja Valero.
Citing stories in Italy, TalkSport reports that Tottenham, Manchester City and the Gunners could all launch offers for the 28-year-old in the summer.
Valero has played in England previously having spent time at West Bromwich Albion. It was back in Spain with Villarreal that his career really took off, however, as he became one of the most underrated players in La Liga at the heart of the side’s midfield.
Last summer, his ability was spotted by Fiorentina and the Italian side signed Valero for €7 million (£6m). He has made 32 appearances in Serie A this season, contributing 10 assists to help his side challenge for a place in the Champions League.