Aston Villa will reject all bids for Christian Benteke this summer.
The Belgian international arrived in the Midlands in August on the back of a £7million transfer from Genk, and he has enjoyed a hugely impressive debut season in England. His goals look set to keep Villa in the Premier League after a campaign in which they have flirted with relegation, and he has established himself as the darling of the Holte End.
Benteke was at his deadly best on Monday night, when he rattled in a treble in the stunning 6-1 win over fellow strugglers Sunderland. This hat-trick took his tally to 18 in the Premier League, a total bettered only by Manchester United’s Robin van Persie (25), Liverpool’s Luis Suarez (23), and Footballer of the Year Gareth Bale, of Tottenham Hotspur, who has 19.
Although Villa are not yet safe from relegation, a run of four wins in their last seven matches would suggest they are hitting form at just the right moment. Retaining their top-flight status would almost certainly guarantee they can keep hold of the 22-year-old, especially as he signed a contract which is designed to keep him at the club for another three years.
Even so, there is expected to be interest in Benteke during the summer window, regardless of which division his side will be competing in next term. Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur are all thought to have had the powerful forward watched in recent weeks, as they all wonder how he slipped under their radar nine months ago.
Despite this, The Sun claim Villa have already made up their mind to keep hold of their star player, and are prepared to reject bids of all sizes in the coming weeks. Indeed, the tabloid claims that Randy Lerner, the club owner, is even willing to snub offers of £30million, which would better the £26million City paid for James Milner back three years ago.