Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke has handed in a transfer request, the Premier League club have confirmed.
Benteke has been the subject of intense transfer speculation this summer after he made a huge impact in his first season at Villa last term, scoring 19 Premier League goals and playing a role in the club’s ultimately successful relegation battle.
Villa boss Paul Lambert has made it clear that he was desperate to hang onto the striker he signed from Genk for a reported £7 million in last summer’s transfer window, yet it now seems inevitable that the 22-year-old has played his last game for the club.
"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," said a clearly disappointed Lambert.
The Villa statement went on to clarify the club’s position as speculation mounts that Chelsea and Tottenham may be about to make moves to land the striker who has also been linked with moves to Liverpool and Arsenal.
"In response to reports that Christian Benteke has not travelled to Germany (for the club’s pre-season tour) and has made a transfer request, we can confirm that both are accurate," the statement read.
"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 time frame during pre-season which meets our valuation we would act upon it. But he will remain a Villa player should this not happen."
Benteke’s move to request a transfer will mean he will take a smaller share of any potential move in the coming weeks, yet it will not affect Villa’s desire to make a healthy profit on the money they paid to sign the striker on transfer deadline day last August.
However, Benteke’s departure will come as a huge blow to Villa and their boss Lambert, who were hoping that the striker they put onto the Premier League stage would have shown some loyalty to the club by staying for one more season at least.