Benteke hands in transfer request
Aston Villa have confirmed star striker Christian Benteke has handed in a transfer request.
Benteke has been linked with a move away from the club this summer after excelling in his first season in the Barclays Premier League. The Belgian has not travelled to a pre-season training camp in Germany after being given extra time off by Villa, who are reluctant to part company with one of their best players.
In a statement, the club said: "In response to reports that Christian Benteke has not travelled to Germany with the club and has made a transfer request, we can confirm that both are accurate."
The statement continued: "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 timeframe during pre-season which meets our valuation we would act upon it.
"But he will remain a Villa player should this not happen."
Benteke was crucial to Villa avoiding relegation last season with 19 goals in the league, while he scored 23 in all competitions after moving to the midlands from Genk for a reported £7million.
The news is likely to alert London clubs Arsenal and Chelsea, both of whom have been linked with Benteke and can offer him Champions League football this season.
Villa boss Paul Lambert expressed his disappointment at Benteke's decision although he remains hopeful the 22-year-old will remain 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," he said.