Christian Benteke has stunned Aston Villa by handing in a transfer request, leaving the path now open for a bid from Chelsea.
The Belgian forward did not travel on Villa's trip to Germany and club officials confirmed they will listen to offers for a limited period. It is thought Benteke has a buy-out in his contract that is in excess of £20 million.
That figure will not scare off the Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who has made signing a new striker a priority on his return to Stamford Bridge.
Benteke moved to Villa Park from Genk last season for £7 million and responded with 19 Premier League goals on his debut season in England.
The 22-year-old proved one of the finds of the season and his transfer request is a huge blow to the Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert.
"We’re hugely disappointed that Christian has put in a transfer request," said Lambert. "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.”
Benteke is not due to report back for training with Aston Villa until July 18, allowing him the dispensation to miss the pre-season trip to Germany.
However a club statement confirmed that he will leave if the correct valuation is met.
"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," the statement read. "But he will remain a Villa player should this not happen."
Benteke has three years left on the deal he signed last summer when he moved from Belgium. Spurs and Liverpool will also be interested in the player's desire to leave.
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies