The Aston Villa manager, Tim Sherwood, has told Christian Benteke that he must sign a new contract this summer, with a number of Premier League clubs, including Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, interested in the Belgian.
Benteke, 24, has two years left on his current deal, which includes a £32.5m buyout clause, and Sherwood is firm that if any club wanted to sign him this summer they would have to meet that asking price. Well beaten in Saturday’s FA Cup final, Villa want to end the uncertainty over the striker’s future as a number of players are poised to leave.
On Benteke, Sherwood said: “I think it is right to talk to him about the speculation and we need to put it to bed. He needs to sign a new contract. We need to offer him a new contract, which the club are prepared to do, and he needs to sign it. When he does, we know he’s not going anywhere. We know he’s happy. It’s out there – I put it out there – that he’s got a buyout clause. If no one meets that, he won’t be going anywhere.”
Sherwood said that he has already told a number of players that they will not figure prominently in his plans next season and will be allowed to leave if the club can find better options. He confirmed that he had asked Ron Vlaar to stay and hoped the club could sign on-loan Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley permanently.
“I have told Tom I want him to stay. We will have a chat with his representatives and see if we can get a deal done. I would have thought Tom would have had a few options. He’s enjoyed his time here. I think he has flourished and it is up to him.”
After what was expected to be Randy Lerner’s last visit to England to support the club he bought in 2006, Sherwood said that he still had scope to make signings. “We can spend if I can justify it to the owners. I need to get to work. You can’t wait around or you miss your targets.”
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