- Premier League
Lambert cool as Benteke hits back at link reports
Paul Lambert has insisted no one player is bigger than Aston Villa Football Club as the agent of Christian Benteke has hit back at a report his client is seeking a transfer.
Villa's 19-goal Premier League top scorer has been a sensation in his first season since his £8 million transfer from Genk, and has attracted interest from clubs including AC Milan, Arsenal, Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund.
Benteke's agent though has quashed reports claiming that the striker is seeking a move away.
On Friday the striker was quoted by the Sun as hinting that he would be interested in discussing his future if Arsenal were to make a direct approach. A fuller version of the interview, though, in Belgian sports paper DH reveals that he will not seek to force Villa's hand.
However, agent Eris Kismet insists that the report in the Sun was inaccurate and that Benteke is not trying to force an exit from the club.
"Christian and I are surprised and disgusted by a story in the Sun newspaper claiming Benteke can do what he wants," Kismet told Sky Sports. "He has been misquoted. The true line is that Christian does not want to make a war with Aston Villa.
"He has called me today from New York and he is disgusted, I have told him not to speak to any media from now on. If there is interest, which is normal after the season he has had, no way will problems be made by Christian and myself. That is what he said in the interview!"
Villa boss Lambert appeared on Sky Sports on Thursday evening to discuss former club Borussia Dortmund ahead of the Champions League final. Dortmund will lose one of their own star men, Mario Gotze, to rivals Bayern Munich in the summer, and Lambert was asked how he would feel if - theoretically - a similar scenario played out with Benteke's future.
"It's tough because you have to look after your football club, which is important. No one player should ever be bigger than the club," Lambert said.
"The club's got to be there for years after I've gone from it. So you can't get caught up on keeping one guy; you've got to invest and build a team rather than just individuals all the time.
"Dortmund got €37 million, I guarantee you [Jurgen] Klopp would be hurt initially, but then he'd think: 'OK, I can get one there, one here…' and the team becomes stronger.
"If you keep getting results, the fans will have no problem."