Liverpool boost as Tim Sherwood reveals Benteke has £32.5m buy-out clause
Tim Sherwood admits Aston Villa will be powerless to stop Christian Benteke leaving this summer - after revealing he has a buy-out clause in his contract.
The striker has been linked with a move to Liverpool and Sherwood confirmed for the first time he has a "substantial" release clause in his contract which would trigger a move if met.
Benteke has scored 12 goals in his last 12 games ahead of Saturday's FA Cup final with Arsenal after regaining form and fitness under Sherwood.
The Belgium striker signed a four-year deal in 2013, after initially handing in a transfer request, and Sherwood admitted they face losing Benteke if the clause is met.
He said: "There's a buy-out clause in his contract so it will be impossible for us to stop him if he wants to go. Someone's got to meet that buy-out clause and if they don't it won't be considered because we don't want to lose him.
"Everyone has it. Most players would have it when they sign new contracts. I don't know what the figure is but I believe it will be quite substantial.
"He's made no indication that he wants to leave. I've not had a conversation with him. I've told you my view on it, I don't think he should be moving clubs before a European Championship.
"We're building up to a European Championship, which is a huge stage as well. It's a tournament where you feel that Belgium will be one of the favourites to win it.
"By playing for Aston Villa it hasn't hindered him being the first choice at Belgium, up to now. So to come here and score at the ratio in which he has scored, since I have taken over, if he ends scoring 20 or 30 goals next season he is probably playing for Real Madrid."
Benteke will spearhead Villa's challenge at Wembley and Sherwood could have Shay Given (groin), Kieran Richardson (calf), Jores Okore (knee) and Aly Cissokho (groin) available.
Jack Grealish is also expected to start after his starring role in Villa's successful survival bid in the Barclays Premier League.
He also impressed in the 2-1 win over Liverpool in the semi-final last month and Sherwood is looking for a Wembley repeat from the 19-year-old.
"He has coped with the pressure up until now, when he is asked to step up he has ticked the boxes," he said. "The bigger the stage the better he's been and there isn't any bigger stage than this one so I'm hoping he performs - otherwise we'll sell him!
"He is great, he loves playing. I don't think he gets nervous. He doesn't look the type. He's a terrific player and we're happy he's on our side.
"I think he realises it because he is around Aston Villa fans, Jack has never seen the club win a trophy.
"Even if he tries to get away from it it's impossible with his family walking around with Villa shirts on every day."