Aston Villa have revealed that striker Christian Benteke has handed in a transfer request as he seeks a move away from the Midlands club this summer. In response, Villa have declared that they will only allow the player to leave if they receive an acceptable offer within a time scale that doesn’t negatively impact their preparations for the new season.
Benteke scored 19 goals in his debut Premier League season last campaign after signing for £7 million from Genk. He has subsequently and unsurprisingly been linked with a number of England’s leading clubs, including Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool. Such speculation was heightened when the 22-year-old made comments earlier in the summer, which were later denied by his agent, that he wanted to leave and would be keen on joining Arsenal. Villa have been trying to persuade the Belgium international that he was currently best served by remaining at Villa Park, but they have now been dealt a significant blow to their hopes.
"In response to reports that Christian Benteke has not travelled to Germany with the club and has made a transfer request, we can confirm that both are accurate,” read an Aston Villa statement. "For clarity's sake, however, he had already been given extra time off until July 18 and 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.
"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. But he will remain a Villa player should this not happen."
Villa only just avoided relegation last season, but manager Paul Lambert believes the club is heading in the right direction and is disappointed by Benteke’s decision.
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“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, something this club demands and stands for, and we want Christian to be part of that,” he said, according to Sky Sports.
Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham are all on the lookout for a new striker this summer. However, with Arsenal and Chelsea exploring other targets, while Tottenham have just missed out on the signing of David Villa, White Hart Lane would currently appear to be his likeliest next destination.