Liverpool target Christian Benteke to be offered new deal at Aston Villa
Aston Villa chief executive Tom Fox has confirmed Christian Benteke will be offered a new contract this summer to try to stave off interested clubs.
Benteke's current contract has two years left to run and Villa manager Tim Sherwood has revealed the terms contain a buyout clause thought to be £32.5million.
The striker signed that deal in July 2013 to end speculation linking him with a move to Tottenham and Villa now hope to pull off a similar manoeuvre this summer.
"There has been a lot of speculation and I'm not going to contribute to it or play any of our transfer strategy out in the press," said Fox, speaking at the Sport Industry Breakfast Club.
"But we will offer Christian Benteke a new deal this summer, of course we will."
Benteke has remained tight-lipped about the speculation regarding his future but Fox hopes the Belgian might follow the lead of Villa captain Fabian Delph.
Delph's contract was due to expire this summer but the 25-year-old unexpectedly committed his future to Villa by signing a new four-and-a-half year contract in January.
"If Christian wanted to leave, would we stand in his way? I think to make a blanket statement about a player wanting to leave is very difficult," Fox said.
"Every player has individual aspirations and the relationship they have with the club is different.
"Look at what happened with the re-signing of Fabian Delph, no-one would have thought that was possible or even something he should have done and yet he did it.
"So there isn't a rule that would apply to that. It's about the individual and the relationship he has with the club."
Benteke's representative Kismet Eris was left embarrassed after he told a prank caller the striker would not sign a new contract and wanted to join a club higher in the table.
The call, which was also filmed, appeared to be made by a Villa fan posing as a Premier League manager and Fox believes it was a "disgraceful" trick.
"He was duped," Fox said.
"I think it's disgraceful for someone to pose as someone else and film somebody on his phone having a conversation he thinks is private to someone who he thinks is someone else.
"I think it's disgraceful and I think you should put quotes around the term fan.
"His quotes, 'I have a right to know what's going on with Benteke', I find it completely disagreeable.
"To impersonate someone like that is completely beyond the pale."