Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has revealed that he has no plans to make a quick profit on £7 million striker Christian Benteke amid reports that out-of-favour striker Darren Bent will leave the club when the transfer window re-opens in January, Sky Sports understands.
Benteke, who turned 22 today, has been quite influential since arriving at Villa on a four-year deal from Belgian First Division side K.R.C. Genk in the summer.
The Belgium international has established himself as a first-team player for both club, Aston Villa, and country, Belgium, this season.
Benteke has tallied five goals and three assists in 14 appearances (12 starts) in all competitions for Villa in 2012-13, while adding four goals in six international caps (five starts) for Belgium, including two goals in three 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
His play certainly warrants praise, and Villa’s manager Paul Lambert gave him precisely that.
“Christian has been excellent for us. He is a big strong lad but he can also play,” said Lambert.
“If he keeps progressing the way he has so far, he will be an incredible player. I have to hold onto Benteke. He’s going nowhere.
“I have run out of things to say about Christian. He is not the finished article but he has been excellent for us and a fans’ favourite.
“You have to be a good player to get into the current Belgium side and he has scored plenty of goals for them already.
“He might not peak for a few years yet. He’s only 21 and can be anything he wants.”
Meanwhile, £18 million striker Darren Bent — who has netted two goals in nine English Premier League appearances for Villa this term — is being linked with the likes of Fulham and Queens Park Rangers.
Keita wants EPL move
Côte d’Ivoire winger Abdul Kader Keita has revealed that he wants to play against the best left-backs in the world, naming the likes of Leighton Baines, Ashley Cole, Gael Clichy and Patrice Evra — who are all in the Premier League — with Queens Park Rangers, Southampton, Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion linked with the former Olympique Lyonnais forward, Sky Sports reports.
Keita, 31, is also attracting interest from Ligue 1 following his recent departure from Qatari club Al Saad.
“I would love to test myself against the best left backs of this world, who are all in the Premier League; Cole, Evra, (Gael) Clichy, (Leighton) Baines,” revealed Keita.
“Hopefully that dream will come true for me in a couple of weeks’ time.
“My agent is working on it in England.”
The 31-year-old free agent is looking to start the next chapter in his career, and leaving Al Saad is a familiar start.
The Côte d’Ivoire international left Al Saad, for the first time, in 2005, joining French Ligue 1 outfit Lille OSC.
He spent two years at Lille before joining French giants Lyon in 2007. After two seasons in Lyon, the Ivorian joined Turkish Super League giants Galatasaray S.K. in 2009, before returning to Al Saad in 2010.
At 31, this may be Keita’s last chance. Let’s hope he takes full advantage of his good fortune.