• Villa want cash-only deal with White Hart Lane club
• Chelsea may have a chance if Romelu Lukaku is included
Aston Villa have made it clear that Tottenham Hotspur will have to break their transfer record for the second time this summer if they want to sign Christian Benteke. The Midlands club are determined to dig their heels in over Benteke's future, after the Belgian international submitted a transfer request on Monday, and they have no intention of settling for anything less than £25m.
Tottenham have tracked Benteke for months, and the player is understood to favour a move to White Hart Lane, where he would be guaranteed regular football, yet there are doubts about whether they will be able to meet Villa's valuation, especially after they spent £17m on the Brazilian Paulinho this month. One way to finance the transfer would be to include a player, possibly Jermain Defoe, but that sort of deal is of no interest to Villa, who will demand that Spurs pay the fee in full.
Randy Lerner, Villa's owner, is determined to adopt the same hardline stance that frustrated Liverpool in 2008, when Gareth Barry ended up missing out on a move to Anfield. Villa demanded £18m for Barry and refused to budge on that figure, forcing Liverpool to eventually concede defeat in their attempts to sign the England international, who went on to join Manchester City for £12m a year later.
Villa's position on Benteke, who has three years left on his contract, poses a major challenge for Tottenham. André Villas-Boas is desperate to recruit a top-class centre-forward, and the Spurs manager believes Benteke has all the attributes to succeed at White Hart Lane. Perhaps crucially, Benteke has also emerged as the most viable option for Spurs at a time when they have missed out on David Villa and, for a variety of reasons, are no closer to signing Leandro Damião, Roberto Soldado or Loïc Rémy.
Tottenham could yet face competition from Chelsea and Arsenal, who watched Benteke before he joined Villa from Genk in a £7m deal last August. In the case of Chelsea it is possible that Villa would feel differently about a makeweight if Romelu Lukaku, who spent last season on loan at West Bromwich Albion, was included as part of the package.
Should Benteke leave Villa, his departure will have no bearing on Darren Bent's future. Villa remain keen to offload Bent whom Alan Pardew, the Newcastle manager, admitted is on a list of five strikers – which also includes Rémy – that the club are interested in signing. Wolfsburg are also monitoring Bent's situation.