Aston Villa hope to ward off interest from Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool in Christian Benteke by rewarding the Belgian striker with a bumper pay rise – if the Villians avoid relegation.
The report in the Daily Mirror claims Paul Lambert is ready to hand Benteke a new contract worth up to double his current deal, as the Premier League giants circle. Spurs are short of options up front, with Jermain Defoe struggling for fitness and Emmanuel Adebayor short of form. Arsenal and Liverpool have both also been linked with Benteke, while Manchester City sold Mario Balotelli in the January transfer window - possibly freeing up space to buy a striker in the summer.
The west Midlands club signed the Belgium international in a £7m deal from Genk last summer – and Benteke signed a contract worth around £20,000-a-week.
But after a stellar first season in the Premier League his value has shot skyward, and his impressive performances have alerted the likes of Tottenham, City and Arsenal.
Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid are all also keeping tabs on the 22-year-old, after 15 goals for a struggling Premier League team this term.
The report suggests Spurs lead the race to sign him in the summer, with Villa thought to be confident they would be able to demand at least double the £7m they paid for him last summer. If they get relegated, it is almost certain that Benteke would leave the club.
But Lambert remains hopeful of keeping his star man should Villa beat the drop. Benteke’s deal expires in 2016, but Lambert is willing to bump up Benteke’s salary as a reward for his good work should they avoid relegation.