Paul Lambert has insisted anyone who wants to lure star striker Christian Benteke away from Aston Villa will have to pay over double what he paid for the Belgian international.
Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal have all been linked with Benteke, who moved to Villa for £8m in the summer and is the club's leading scorer with 14 goals, in the last 24 hours amid suggestions the striker will look to leave Villa Park in the summer - regardless of whether the club are relegated.
The 22-year-old has been one of the signings of the season in the Premier League and one of the few high points of a dismal season so far for Lambert. Indeed, if the striker does look to move on at the end of the season, then he is going to cost a huge sum, although the manager has been at pains to point out that Benteke is a player he wants to keep at the club.
"If someone wanted to buy Christian, they had better have a few quid in their pocket to buy him. He’s not just going to walk out of here for the value he came for, that’s for sure," said Lambert. “We have given him the opportunity to show what he can do and I think he is loving his football at the moment.
“If that’s the whispers coming back then, it’s funny because he doesn’t speak! So I have not heard it. He’s a cracking big guy and really humble. If he keeps that, he could be anything he wants to be.
“Has he doubled his value? Yes, by miles. If you look at the figures being branded it’s not what I bought him for. When the guy came in, people were saying to me ‘who is he and why are you going for someone from Genk?’ With what he’s done he’s a cult hero.
“He’s only 22 and he’s got years and years ahead of him. He’s not at his peak, but what he’s done for me and for the club is fantastic.”