Aston Villa confident of star man stay

Christian BentekeAston Villa are playing down fears that Christian Benteke could be seeking a summer exit following reports this week in Belgium.

Villa’s top scorer is currently away with the Belgian national team for their double-header against the United States in Cleveland and a match with Serbia in Brussels.

Manager Paul Lambert remains relaxed about Benteke’s future despite the quotes this week attributed to him in the Belgian newspaper Nieuwsblad.

He spoke with the player, who scored 19 times this season, before his departed for international duty and he fully expects him to come back to Villa Park for pre-season ahead of a second campaign in claret and blue.

The club are also optimistic that the 22-year-old will extend his contract after offering him a significant pay rise as a reward for his efforts since arriving in the Midlands last August.

Villa certainly aren’t fearful that Benteke will look to move on any time soon due to his strong relationship with Lambert and the fact he still has three years to run on his existing deal following a £7m switch from Genk.

Benteke is reported to have said: “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.

“Of course playing the World Cup in Rio 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.”

Lambert certainly believes the player would benefit from remaining at Villa Park for a while longer, having just completed his first season in the Premier League.

The Scot told talkSPORT: “I don’t really 100 per cent know what’s happened but he’s got three years here at Aston Villa and the club have always come first.

“He’s had one of those seasons where he’s never really been injured and he’s never been suspended except the last day.

“It’s a unique thing, and he’s got to remember that he’s only 22 years of age – he’s got so much to learn.

“He’s only a kid starting out and he’s going to have ups and downs like everybody else. Once he starts to play 400 or 500 games you might think, ‘yeah, he’s a right good player’.

“I think sometimes we’ve got to have a reality check here. This lad’s only been in Britain for 10 months. He’s got the status at Aston Villa and everybody loves him.”