Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke is ready to force a transfer from Villa Park this summer. The 22-year-old Belgian forward has reportedly told team mates he wants to play for either Arsenal or Tottenham.
The Express believes Spanish club Atlético Madrid are also interested, given they need to replace Colombian international Radamel Falcao. The South American has agreed terms for a switch to newly promoted Ligue 1 side Monaco.
Benteke joined Villa from Belgian club Genk last summer, for around £7m. If he moves on this summer, a return of 23 goals and eight assists in his debut season in England will see his valuation double. And Atlético, Spurs and Arsenal are all ready to pay the £15m the player will reportedly command.
The Belgian earlier revealed that while he was looking for a solution to satisfy all parties, he would not "necessarily accept" Villa telling him to stay for a second season.
"If the chance comes up for me to join a club like Arsenal, I'm convinced we can reach a compromise [but] if Villa say I must stay, I won't necessarily accept that. But I have no fear of falling out of the team. There is no point in me getting into a tug-of-war with Villa," Benteke told The Sun.
Benteke has three more seasons left on his contract with Villa. And while that should, theoretically, strengthen Paul Lambert's position, if Benteke is indeed willing to force an exit, the Villa boss might be better off cashing in on his star player rather than retain an unhappy and uncooperative striker.
Lambert previously confirmed the club would offer Benteke a new contract; Goal.com reported the offer would boost his present £20,000 per week deal to match top earners like Richard Dunne, who pockets £60,000 per week.
However, the Express believes Benteke, acting on his agent's instructions, will reject any new deal. And Lambert is unhappy about that because he feels the Belgian owes the club a second season.
Assuming Benteke does indeed move on this summer, the north London rivals may not have it all their way in this race. The Guardian earlier reported that Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund were interested.
Jurgen Klopp's men need reinforcement in trheir attacking line-up, after losing playmaker Mario Götze to Bundesliga and European champions Bayern Munich. Worse still, they may lose Polish striker Robert Lewandowski as well, with the player's agent claiming last week a deal to take his client to the Allianz Arena had been agreed.