Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Villa to start talks with key men

Paul Lambert is hoping to keep Christian Benteke, pictured, at Aston Villa

Paul Lambert will sit down with Christian Benteke and Aston Villa's other stars of the season next week to thrash out improved deals and begin building towards next year.

Benteke's 19-goal contribution to Villa's Premier League survival push this year has seen him linked with some of Europe's biggest teams, while the likes of Matthew Lowton, Ashley Westwood, Brad Guzan and Andreas Weimann have emerged from relative obscurity to become key men.

"Who has he been linked with now?" the Scot said. "I always knew it would happen. Christian and a few other lads are in my thinking."

Lambert quipped: "I don't know how much he's on, I leave the finances to other people. No, I know everything that's going on and exactly what's happening, everybody's finances.

"Christian is one of a few who have been brilliant for us, collectively as a team and individuals they've been great. We're coming to the end of the season and yes, we'll sit them down and try to get things done.

"Every one of the players have helped us stay up, it's not just one player. Every one of the lads contributed something and they're the ones that have done it, we got ourselves over the line."

Lambert bristled at any suggestion Arsenal did Villa a favour by beating Wigan 4-1 on Tuesday to confirm his side's safety.

"People say we were relying on Arsenal to get us a result but we weren't," he said. "It's because we did the job ourselves.

"We've won all the games that counted, only the top four have beaten us. There are no celebrations yet, the job is not done yet. But the crowd is special here.

"I knew how tight the league always was, even teams in mid-table had to have one eye behind them. We're going to have a fantastic following up at Wigan on Sunday and we have to try to win it and not slack off and let it become one of those games where it's like a festival."

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