• Tottenham lead queue for coveted Belgium forward
• Arsenal and Chelsea are also possible destinations
Aston Villa's hopes of holding on to Christian Benteke in the summer appear increasingly forlorn, with Tottenham Hotspur heading a growing list of clubs interested in signing the Belgium international on the back of an exceptional first season in English football.
Benteke has been a revelation since joining Villa from Genk in a £7m deal in August, scoring 15 goals for a team that is embroiled in a relegation battle. Paul Lambert, the Villa manager, recently suggested that Benteke's value will have more than doubled on the back of his impact at the Midlands club.
Although several overseas teams, including Atlético Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, have watched Benteke, the 22-year-old's preference is to remain in England. Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea are all potential destinations for the striker.
Arsène Wenger followed Benteke's progress in Belgium and the Arsenal manager admitted a few months ago that he was "surprised" the player ended up signing for Villa. Spurs, meanwhile, have sent scouts to take a closer look at Benteke, whose physical presence has helped him adapt to the Premier League with the minimum of fuss and caught the eye of André Villas-Boas, the Tottenham manager.
Kismet Eris, Benteke's agent, said: "It is normal that, if you go to a club and do well, then other clubs will show an interest. Christian has shown that he can play in England. So why not take the step up to the next level if the opportunity is there?
"At the end of the season interested clubs will talk to Villa – but it has to be right for Villa, the buying club and Christian. If all three parties are agreeable, then something could happen. But right now his focus is on Aston Villa – and helping them stay in the Premier League. He wants to repay Paul Lambert for the faith that has been shown in him. He has scored a lot of goals this season and wants to give 100% between now and the end of the season.
"But Villa will now ask a big price for Christian, much more than they paid for him, because Paul Lambert was the one who gave him his chance. There will be clubs asking about Christian next summer because he's proved he can do it in England. None of the big clubs wanted to take a chance on Christian when he was still unknown. I have been with Christian for 10 years now. I know what his ambitions are – he wants to do well in England."