'Christian Benteke is not for sale' - Crystal Palace boss Sam Allardyce
Crystal Palace manager Sam Allardyce has said Christian Benteke is not for sale in the January transfer window and targeted defensive reinforcements in a bid to keep the team in the Premier League.
Benteke, a £27 million summer signing from Liverpool, has been linked with a move to China following Allardyce's arrival. But the former England manager said that was not the case.
"I haven't spoken to the chairman, so unless the chairman knows any different from me, Christian Benteke is not for sale," Allardyce said at a news conference ahead of the game at West Ham on Saturday.
"You can never say never but for the moment he is a Crystal Palace player and available for selection this weekend.
"I am planning on him being here at the end of this window.
"He has scored eight goals already for Crystal Palace this season so he has a major part to play -- particularly in that goal scoring area -- for us to stay safe in the Premier League, so I expect him to be here when the window shuts.
"My interest at this time is to strengthen the areas in defence, not the attacking or front areas at this time.
"I think when Wilfried [Zaha] and Bakary Sako come back [from the African Nations Cup] we have very good options on the front line. "We have Loic Remy fit again, Fraizer Campbell so I think we have plenty of options. Defensively we need to secure more defensive players to help our situation.
"The fact we have only kept one clean sheet all season is a big point for me to try and make the team realise that we need to stop those goals going in, either in general play or in set pieces.
"That is my focus on players in this window."
Allardyce is wasting no time in looking for new signings and added that he has already made offers for players.
"We have bids in for three, four players in at this time, whether those bids get accepted, I will find out.
"The chairman is doing that side of the business over the transfer window so I would not like to speculate over a player [by name].
"We have been very busy [looking at transfers] without any great success so far. By the end of this week we wanted to have secured one of the defenders we are targeting but that is still not the case and it shows how difficult the window is.
"We are trying our best but the prices are steep, but we have to live with those because it is a necessity that we strengthen the defence."
The trip to West Ham will see Allardyce, who is yet to win in four games as Palace boss, return to a club he managed between 2011 and 2015 and he expects a good reception from Hammers fans.
"I don't reflect on the past very often, but I did have four very enjoyable years at West Ham. I really enjoyed living in London," he said.
"I look forward to the game. First time at the new stadium, but most importantly it's a result I'm looking for.
"I'd expect an alright reception. It was fine when I went back with Sunderland. If we start winning it might be different.
"It's massively important [to get that first win]. Reflecting on that Watford game I'm bitterly disappointed. How costly that draw was.
"We'd all feel a little more comfortable with a win from that game. We've now gone four without victory, need one sooner rather than later."
Palace have also confirmed Martyn Margetson has joined the club from Cardiff City as goalkeeping coach.
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