Aston Villa striker Benteke hands in transfer request

The powerful striker helped Paul Lambert's struggling side avoid relegation to the Championship with 19 league goals last season, and he is now looking to move on
Aston Villa have confirmed that striker Christian Benteke has handed in a transfer request.

Goal reported earlier on Monday that Chelsea are lining up a move for the Belgium striker, who is keen to challenge for the Premier League title and play Champions League football.

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Benteke has proven to be a favourite at Villa Park after scoring 19 league goals in his debut season to help stave off the threat of relegation, but he has now expressed his desire to leave Villa Park and will not partake in their pre-season preparations.

"In response to reports that Christian Benteke has not travelled to Germany with the club and has made a transfer request, we can confirm that both are accurate," a club statement read.

"For clarity's sake, however, he had already been given extra time off until July 18 and was reminded that there are three years remaining on his contract.

"We consider him to be a Villa player and expect that he will be with us for the 2013-14 season.

"Having received his transfer request, we have also informed him that should we receive an offer within an appropriate timeframe during pre-season which meets our valuation we would act upon it. But he will remain a Villa player should this not happen."

Villa boss Paul Lambert added: "While we're hugely disappointed that Christian has put in a transfer request, it's important that people appreciate we are trying to build somehing strong and vibrant here at the club and we want Christian to be part of that."