Speculation concerning Manchester United's alleged interest in Christian Benteke has grown following reports from Sky Sports that the Aston Villa striker has refused to sign a new contract with the club.
The Red Devils are keen to bring in a new striker as they've opted against taking up the option to sign Radamel Falcao on a permanent basis, following his disappointing loan spell spent at Old Trafford last season.
Combined with the uncertain future of Robin van Persie, who is the source of rumours surrounding a potential move to Fenerbahce, the need for a new frontman is made all the more important.
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WON'T GO CHEAPLY
Since his arrival at Aston Villa in August 2012 Benteke has proven himself to be a standout performer for the Midlands club in recent seasons, amassing an impressive 49 goals from 101 appearances.
Such is the importance of Benteke to Villa, that they have slapped a £32.5million release cause into the player's contract in order to to deter potential suitors from luring their hitman away.
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However, despite being put off by what United feel is a hefty mark-up for a player bought in for only £7m three years ago, they are believed to have made an enquiry into his availability according to reports relayed by talkSPORT.
There is no doubt that United have the financial muscle power to meet Benteke's valuation, but they do not want to succumb to Villa's demands without attempting to test their resolve first.
United feel there is an option to pay less then the £32.5m demanded if they can sweeten the deal by also offering a player as part of the package. Whether that is an option which the Villa board wish to explore remains unknown, but having been impressed by Tom Cleverley, who they loaned from United last season, there may potentially be room for negotiation if another player tickles their fancy.
Even so, with this latest revelation concerning Benteke's refusal to commit his future to Villa it appears that his head may have been swayed and thus hands United a distinct advantage over transfer dealings which they could use to leverage a deal.
Although Liverpool are also thought to be interested in bringing Benteke to Merseyside, the lure of Champions League football, which United can offer, may prove too hard to fight against. It is still only a possibility at this stage, but Benteke to United seems feasible to say the least. Villa fans have a right to be worried.
United fans, would Benteke be a good buy from Van Gaal? Let us know in the comments box below what you think.