Aston Villa chairman Randy Lerner is ready to take a hard line with wantaway striker Christian Benteke.
The Daily Mail says Benteke was immediately pulled out of Villa’s pre-season tour to Germany after his transfer request and has been given an extra week’s leave. Villa issued a club statement, acknowledging the forward’s demand, saying he would be free to leave if a suitable fee was received.
Lerner is keen to pursue that line following an earlier situation with Gareth Barry five years ago when Liverpool made a move for the England midfielder. Villa quoted Rafael Benitez a fee of £18m but Liverpool failed to come up with the money and Barry returned to Villa for a season before moving to Manchester City a year later.
Villa manager Paul Lambert is unwilling to lose Benteke, who scored 19 goals last season, and has told him as much, being careful not to burn any bridges with a player he has nurtured carefully since signing him from Genk last year for £8m.
Faulkner talked to Benteke earlier this summer about doubling his £1m-a-year salary on the condition that he extended his current contract. That offer has been left on the table.