July 8 (Reuters) – Aston Villa’s Belgium striker Christian Benteke has asked for a transfer and will be allowed to leave if a suitable offer is made, the Premier League club said in a statement reported by British media on Monday.
Benteke’s 19 league goals last season, following his move from Belgian club Racing Genk on a four-year deal for a fee of about seven million pounds ($10.46 million) in August, helped a struggling Villa side avoid relegation.
The club’s manager Paul Lambert was quoted by the BBC as saying he still hoped the 22-year-old, who was fourth-highest scorer in the Premier League last term, would stay at Villa Park.
“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,” Lambert said.
Benteke, who has been linked with several clubs including Villa’s Premier League rivals Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, has not travelled on the Midlands side’s pre-season tour to Germany because he has been given extra time off until July 18.
“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,” the club said in a statement on the BBC website.
“He 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.” ($1 = 0.6695 British pounds) (Reporting by Ken Ferris; Editing by Sonia Oxley)