Thursday 19 April 2018

Liverpool set to swoop for Christian Benteke as Sherwood confirms Aston Villa striker has €45m buy-out clause

Christian Benteke is likely to attract suitors this summer
Christian Benteke is likely to attract suitors this summer

John Percy

Tim Sherwood has revealed Christian Benteke has a buy-out clause and fears it could be “impossible” for Aston Villa to keep the forward this summer.

Benteke is emerging as Liverpool’s leading transfer target and, according to the Telegraph, it will take a figure of £32.5 million to sign the Belgium international.

Villa inserted the clause into the new £50,000-a-week contract Benteke signed two years ago and Liverpool are expected to trigger the release for the 24-year-old after Saturday’s FA Cup Final.

Sherwood has reiterated that Benteke, a £7m signing from Genk in 2012, would be taking a huge risk with his career by leaving the club before next summer’s European Championships.

But this weekend’s Wembley showpiece against Arsenal appears increasingly likely to be Benteke’s last game for Villa, with Chelsea and Manchester United also monitoring the situation.

“There’s a buy-out clause in his contract so it will be impossible for us to stop him if he wants to go. Someone’s got to meet that buy-out clause and if they don’t it won’t be considered because we don’t want to lose him,” said Sherwood.

Tim Sherwood has confirmed Benteke has a buy-out clause in his contract
Tim Sherwood has confirmed Benteke has a buy-out clause in his contract

“I don’t know what the figure is but I believe it will be quite substantial. He’s made no indication that he wants to leave. I’ve not had a conversation with him.

“This is still a huge football club. It’s up to the individual to make that decision, I can’t make it for him. I want him to stay here.”

Benteke has 12 goals in his last 12 games heading into Saturday’s final and has rediscovered the form of his first season, alerting Liverpool who are desperately scouring Europe for a proven forward.

Villa are keen to discuss a new contract next month but the buy-out clause leaves them effectively powerless to prevent him leaving if he displays a desire to move on.

However, Sherwood has warned that moving to a club where he would not be guaranteed first-team football would be a gamble ahead of Euro 2016.

“I don’t think he should be moving clubs before a European Championship,” he said.

“It’s a tournament where you feel that Belgium will be one of the favourites to win it. By playing for Aston Villa it hasn’t hindered him being the first choice at Belgium, up to now.

“All he’s got to do is look at history and see what has happened to players who have left. They’re going to pastures new, bigger and better and they don’t actually play so they end up looking for a new home.

“I think we cross more balls into the box than any club in the league and I think Christian says he feeds off crosses. There’s no point going to a club where they don’t cross the ball."

Shay Given should be fit for the FA Cup final
Shay Given should be fit for the FA Cup final

Sherwood’s revelation about Benteke’s possible exit is unlikely to overshadow preparations for Villa’s first FA Cup Final in 15 years, however.

There has been a determined mood around Bodymoor Heath this week and a realisation that beating Arsenal could herald a new era, after four successive battles against relegation.

Sherwood said: “It's a great opportunity for everyone involved to give the club a platform to move on.

“Losing becomes a habit and we have to make sure winning becomes a habit.

“We know we are huge underdogs going into the game but every time we've been underdogs this year I've asked them for a big performance and we've produced it. They can rise to the occasion, they just need to do it one more time.”

Villa are expected to have goalkeeper Shay Given available after a groin problem.

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