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Five Aside

Benteke agent confident of Villa deal

Christian Benteke's representatives expect to open negotiations over an improved contract with Aston Villa next week.

The Belgian international, currently earning around £20,000-a-week has been promised a new deal by Villa manager Paul Lambert for the major contribution he has made in helping the club retain their Premier League status.

Villa's escape from relegation following Wigan's defeat at Arsenal on Tuesday night has paved the way for Lambert and Randy Lerner to step up their bid to keep the Belgian sensation at Villa Park and place him among the club's highest earners.

Benteke's 19 Premier League goals in his first season since his £7 million summer arrival from Genk has alerted the cream of European football - with Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund the latest interested party.

Villa have maintained for several weeks they plan to sit down and negotiate fresh terms with the striker once their Premier League status was secured and Benteke's representatives want owner Randy Lerner to open discussions as soon as possible.

Benteke, who has had a £30 million price tag placed around his neck by Lambert, will not be short of options this summer, with Dortmund, AC Milan and Arsenal all queuing up to lure the striker away with the promise of Champions League football next season.

And Benteke's agenty Eris Kismet believes the responsibility is now squarely at the door of American Lerner to start talks over a major contract improvement to reward the 22-year-old for his efforts this season.

Without Benteke Villa would have been doomed and Kismet said: "Now that the future of Aston Villa is secure I hope it will mean we can have discussions maybe by the end of the week. If not, then next week," said

"We did the transfer deal last summer with Aston Villa with a lot of respect. We hope that discussions on a new contract will be done with the same respect.

"Villa have said they want to speak for several weeks, but it has been difficult because of the situation in the Premier League. Now they are safe and the situation will change."

Kismet confirmed the presence of Dortmund's chief transfer negotiator Michael Zorc at Villa's recent 2-1 defeat by Chelsea as the German club line up possible replacements for Robert Lewandowsi.

Lewandowski is certain to leave Dortmund following the Champions League final later this month, with Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Chelsea all linked with the Polish international.

Dormund have been linked with moves for Manchester City's Edin Dzeko and Ajax's Christian Erikssen as potential replacements, but Aston Villa striker Benteke is also on their list of candidates.

Kismet confirmed: "I am aware of the Dortmund representation at Villa Park for the Chelsea match, but Christian is still a Villa player and nothing has changed on that point.

"There were a lot of scouts from many teams who have an interest in Christian. Now Aston Villa's future in the Premier League is decided we will know more.

"It is natural for many teams to show an interest when Christian has had such a good season and scored many goals."

Kismet confirmed there is no buy-out clause in the three-year contract deal negotiated with Benteke last summer, but Villa are determined not to allow another of their prized assets to leave this summer, following the recent exodus of stars like James Milner, Ashley Young and Gareth Barry.


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