Lambert: I knew I could persuade Benteke to stay at Aston Villa

The Scot says he was convinced he would be able to talk the Belgian striker into staying at Villa Park and is looking forward to seeing him in action next season
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert insisted he was “never worried” that star striker Christian Benteke would leave the club, despite handing in a transfer request.

The Belgium international expressed his desire to leave the club in early July and subsequently did not travel to Germany with the rest of the squad as part of the club’s pre-season preparations.

However, the striker has since had a change of heart with the club announcing on Friday he had withdrawn his request and signed a new four-year deal at Aston Villa.

Yet Lambert insists he was always confident the striker would stay despite interest from Tottenham.

“If I’m honest I was never worried he was going to leave because I knew the contract had three years left on it and I didn’t pay much attention into will he or won’t he leave,” he told talkSPORT.

“I knew if I could speak with him then I could persuade him that Aston Villa was the best place for him and I’m glad that everything went well there.”

The Scot also admitted he is relieved to have put the transfer saga behind him and is looking forward to watching Benteke in action at Villa Park next season.

“His performance levels have been really, really high for us and all that speculation, that I had to lay to rest quickly because it was dragging on, wasn’t helpful to Christian Benteke or Aston Villa," he added.

“I think we had a really good conversation and I was full and frank with him and, in my opinion, the best thing for him was to stay at Aston Villa for another year.”