Sunday media watch [30.06.13]: Luna/Benteke/Bent in focus
Sunday Mirror: Aston Villa will slap a £25million price tag on Christian Benteke to scare off any club that gets serious about buying their brilliant young striker. Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool have been linked with the 22-year-old Belgium star, who hit 19 goals in his first Premier League season. And Spanish giants Atletico Madrid are among Continental clubs keen on Benteke, who put off talks about signing the double-your-money £40,000-a-week contract that Villa put in front of him in May. But boss Paul Lambert has been given the backing of owner Randy Lerner to play hardball over the future of his star front man, who has three years left on his contract. Insiders say that any club will be told to start talking at £25m, and include some extra clauses.
Sunday Mirror: Aston Villa are targeting Belgium player Nacer Chadli as a new way of trying to keep Christian Benteke. Villa have joined a host of clubs chasing FC Twente winger Chadli, who only has a year left to run on his contract. And Villa hope that if they could sign Chadli it may help convince Benteke to stay at least another year. Fulham, Tottenham, Liverpool and West Brom have also been tracking Chadli, who scored 16 goals for Twente last season. Although Chadli has played on the wing for Twente, Lambert wants a creative spark to play in the hole and would consider moving the 23-year-old inside.
Daily Star on Sunday: Tottenham will have to cough up a staggering £25million to land Aston Villa ace Christian Benteke this summer. Villa plan to slap that hefty price tag on the Belgium striker, 22, in an effort to put off a number of big guns chasing his services. As revealed in the Daily Star Sunday last weekend, Spurs head the queue but need to off-load expensive misfit Emmanuel Adebayor before making any move. Other clubs monitoring developments surrounding Benteke, who returns for pre-season duty at the end of this week, include Arsenal, Liverpool and AC Milan. However, if and when they come calling over the next few weeks, they will find that Villa are in no mood to do business.
Sunday Mercury: Brad Guzan reckons Aston Villa's young defence no longer needs looking out for after a season of rough and tumble. The goalkeeper believes the baptism of fire last term has transformed Paul Lambert's Premier League rookies into capable performers who are ready to make amends for their previous struggles. They will no longer look like boys playing against men, insists Guzan, because of the strength they have gained out of adversity.
Sunday People: Aston Villa have not yet had any enquiries over Darren Bent. They are willing to sell the former England striker for £8million. Newcastle are the latest to weigh up a bid, but so far Villa have heard nothing. Bent, 29, is their record signing as he cost £18m plus add-ons when he joined in 2011. But last season the forward started just 12 matches, and boss Paul Lambert has no plans for him as a regular first teamer next term. Lambert's main focus is on securing the future of Christian Benteke.
Sun on Sunday: Aston Villa have yet to receive a single offer for Darren Bent. Boss Paul Lambert hopes to sell the striker but is waiting for a firm bid. Newcastle are favourites to land ex-England striker Bent, who would be available for £8million. But if there are no takers, Villa face the prospect of still having the player at the club for the start of the season — although he would be left in the reserves.
Goal.com: Aston Villa defender Antonio Luna says he "can't wait" to begin the season with Paul Lambert's side following his transfer from Sevilla. The defender is part of a raft of new faces at Villa Park with the Midlanders also bringing in Leandro Bacuna, Nicklas Helenius, Jose Okore, Jed Steer and Aleksandar Tonev so far this summer. Villa have a tough start to the season travelling to Arsenal on the opening day before a visit from Liverpool, but Luna is relishing the challenge.
Sky Sports: New Aston Villa recruit Antonio Luna is relishing the prospect of starting his Premier League career with games against Arsenal and Liverpool. Highly-rated left-back Luna, 22, joined Villa on a three-year deal from Sevilla earlier this month after catching the eye of manager Paul Lambert with his performances in Spain. He is looking forward to experiencing English football and knows he will have to hit the ground running after the fixture list gave Villa a trip to Emirates Stadium on the opening weekend followed by a home clash with Liverpool.
Best of the Rest
BBC Sport: Blackburn Rovers have cancelled the contract of Portugal international Nuno Gomes by mutual consent. The 36-year-old striker had 12 months remaining on the two-year deal he signed at Ewood Park in July 2012.
Sky Sports: Yossi Benayoun's agent has confirmed that West Bromwich Albion are among several clubs interested in the midfielder. The Israel international has been released by Chelsea this summer following three years at Stamford Bridge and is now considering his options.
BBC Sport: Chelsea's midfielder Marko Marin will spend next season on loan at Spanish club Sevilla. The 24-year-old German, who signed from Werder Bremen for £7m last summer but missed the start of the season through injury, made just 16 appearances.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.
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