Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood says Liverpool got a bargain in Christian Benteke, denies criticising them

A £32.5 million release clause in the Belgian striker's Villa contract allowed the Reds to lure him to Anfield in the summer, much to Sherwood's disappointment.

Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood has admitted that Liverpool got a bargain in the summer with the £32.5 million signing of Christian Benteke.

Villa were desperate to keep the Belgian striker after he finished last season on a run of 12 goals in 13 games but a buy-out clause inserted into the contract he signed back in July 2013 left them powerless to prevent him being lured to Anfield.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow’s meeting with the Reds, which his former striker will miss due to a hamstring strain, Sherwood said: “When the phones were in the wall, I was pulling them all out hoping that call wouldn’t come in time!

“It was taken out of our hands and it was something I certainly expected. I expected the phone call to come and expected them to pay that kind of money for Christian Benteke because of what kind of player he is – top draw.

“We would have liked to have kept him. We valued him at a lot more than that but the clause was in there for a reason and Liverpool matched it. Value to our football club, he would have been a lot more than that.”

Benteke, 24, bagged 49 goals in 101 games for Villa after joining them from Genk in August 2012 for around £7 million but the aftereffects of a ruptured Achilles meant he scored just three times in 18 appearances last season before Sherwood replaced Paul Lambert at the helm.

“I think if you asked last Christmas whether anyone would have come in with that money for Christian Benteke, there might not have been too many takers,” added the Villa boss. “But I think he showed the quality he’s got over the last part of the season which prompted Liverpool to spend the money.

“I tried everything possible to change his mind. He’s a very intelligent guy with a great representative. He’s very honest and that’s few and far between in football.”

In addition, Sherwood also denied that he told Benteke not to sign for Liverpool, despite suggesting back in May that the 6ft 3in forward might not be a good fit for the Merseyside outfit due to their reluctance to cross the ball.

Those comments sparked criticism from the powerful targetman himself ahead of the new season but Sherwood insists that he only ever tried to sell Villa to him rather than put him off any other club.

“I told him it was best to stay here, score 30 goals this season and then go into the European Championship on a high,” he stressed. “I never criticised any club, it was up to him. I was just selling him Aston Villa and not rubbishing any club.

“I’ve read that I was telling him, ‘you don’t want to go there because of their style of play,’ but that’s all rubbish. It never happened. I was just selling him Aston Villa and what I knew he could do for this football club with our personnel.”

Benteke has since scored twice in six appearances for Liverpool, including a spectacular overhead kick in the recent 3-1 defeat at Manchester United, but his hamstring issues mean the under pressure Brendan Rodgers will have to do without for around two weeks.

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