Former Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has told Sky Sports News HQ that the club should demand more than the £30 million teams are reported to be preparing to offer for Christian Benteke this summer.
Benteke, 24, endured a miserable first half to the season after returning in October from six months out with a ruptured Achilles, scoring just three times in 18 total appearances, while even getting benched for Lambert’s final two games in charge.
However, the Belgian striker has been revitalised since Tim Sherwood’s appointment, bagging 11 goals in past 10 games to help the club to the brink of Premier League survival and to a first FA Cup final appearance since 2000.
His recent form has seen speculation surrounding his future resurface, though, with the Daily Mail reporting this week that Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Roma are all lining up summer bids.
Sherwood himself has reiterated that he has no intention of selling his most prized asset but has admitted that he will not prevent him from leaving if the in-form front man does demand a move at some point.
Lambert believes it is possible that the man he signed from Genk in August 2012 for £7 million could leave in the coming months but, with a fee of £30 million being bandied about, thinks that Villa should be holding out for a much more substantial sum.
“I think you could get a bit more for him than that,” the Scot said on Thursday while appearing on The Morning View. “I probably know him better than anybody. Christian could’ve probably moved every year since he’s been at Aston Villa – some massive clubs have come in for him – and I kept on saying no because the fees just weren’t good enough.
“There were times when we had to sit Christian down and say, ‘This is the best thing for you. Stay here a couple of years, keep doing what you’re doing and then you’ll get your big move.’
“If you’re saying £30 million for him then no, I think you could a bit more. Considering what I paid for him, he should be worth more than quadruple that.”
|2014-15 Premier League||Goals||Goals MINS||Total Shots MINS||Shooting Accuracy||Scoring V Shooting Accuracy||Big Chances Missed||Touches MINS||Dispossessed MINS||Appearances||Mins Played|
|Christian Benteke||Under Sherwood||10||96.8||37.23||50%||38%||1||1.69||40.33||11||968|
|Christian Benteke||Under Lambert||2||616||25.67||29%||4%||5||1.85||42.48||16||1,232|
Continuing on Benteke’s early-season struggles which ultimately contributed to his mid-February sacking, Lambert added: “I’d lost [Libor] Kozak at the same time to a broken leg and Christian needed time to get back fit.
“People were saying he was fit [when he was back] but he never was. I took him out of the team for his own protection because I thought there was a lot of onus on him when he wasn’t totally fit to score goals for us.
“People were saying, ‘Why have you dropped Christian Benteke?’ but I dropped him to protect him because he was feeling the pressure.
“He hasn’t all of a sudden turned into a goalscoring machine. I saw it two years ago and I’ve always said that he’s one of the best No. 9s that I’ve seen – and I’ve played with some brilliant players.
“He’s got the potential to be a fantastic footballer.”