Saturday media watch [22.02.14]: Vlaar/Benteke in focus
Birmingham Mail: Paul Lambert will try to secure the future of captain Ron Vlaar before the Holland international leaves for the World Cup. Lambert is confident the 29-year-old will go to Brazil at the end of a season when he has finally emerged as a figure of authority in the Aston Villa defence. But he will go with Louis van Gaal's squad with just one more year remaining on the contract he signed when he joined from Feyenoord in August 2012. And the concern is that more good performances for the Dutch national team will attract unwanted interest from some of Europe's big hitters. So Lambert will open negotiations on a new deal before his skipper steps on the plane to Brazil, where he will face Spain, Chile and Australia.
Daily Star: Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has warned the Premier League that Christian Benteke is getting back to his best, and there's lots more to come. The Belgian stormed onto the scene last season, but has suffered a frustrating second. Injuries and a goal-drought have hampered his progress, but manager Lambert thinks his big striker is only just getting going.
Sky Sports: Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert believes Christian Benteke is slowly getting back to his best after a season disrupted by injury. The Belgian scored 23 goals in all competitions for Aston Villa last season but has found the back of the next on just eight occasions so far during this campaign. But Lambert is confident the striker will start firing again soon, insisting Benteke will continue to improve as he gets older and gains more experience.
Sporting Life: Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert will sit down with captain Ron Vlaar to discuss his future before the World Cup in a bid to tie the Dutchman to the club before he attracts interest from elsewhere while in Brazil. Vlaar, nicknamed 'Concrete Ron' by Villa fans, has been an impressive performer since arriving in England in the summer of 2012 despite frequent injuries. Lambert is certain his skipper will be selected by Holland for this year's showpiece and, with just one full year left on his contract, hopes to sign Vlaar up long term before he heads to South America.
Daily Express: Ron Vlaar will be rewarded with a new contract if he helps keep Aston Villa in the Premier League. Vlaar is regarded as a key man by manager Paul Lambert and says he is certain to go to the World Cup with Holland. But before that Villa, with two wins in their last 12 league games, still have a fight to stay out of the relegation battle. Vlaar played in central defence in both of those victories, away to Sunderland and the local derby with West Brom, and Villa have not won a league game this season with him out of the team. When Vlaar was missing recently with a hamstring injury, Villa lost six out of seven, getting only one point and going out of the FA Cup to Sheffield United. Vlaar was one of Lambert's first buys at a bargain £3.25million from Feyenoord and has a year of his contract left. Villa plan to hold talks with him and he will be offered a new deal.
Daily Star: Aston Villa skipper Ron Vlaar is set to win a new long-term deal. The Holland centre-back, 29, has less than 18 months to run on his existing agreement. However, Lambert wants to tie his key defender down to a new contract on the back of his superb second season in the Premier League. Villa, who go to Newcastle tomorrow, have claimed just one point from six league matches without Vlaar this term with young duo Ciaran Clark and Nathan Baker struggling in his absence. The former Feyenoord man, 29, is already nailed on to go to the World Cup and a deal could even be sorted before he jets out to Brazil.
Daily Mirror: Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert wants 'concrete' Ron Vlaar's future set in stone in the summer. Holland centre-back Vlaar, nicknamed 'concrete Ron' for his hardman displays, has less than 18 months to run on his existing deal. Villa have claimed just one point from six league matches without Vlaar this term and Lambert is eager to tie his skipper, 29, down to a new long-term deal.
Daily Star: Jordan Bowery wants to fire Doncaster to safety and earn himself a move from Aston Villa. Former Chesterfield striker Bowery, 22, is on loan with Paul Dickov's club after spending 18 months in the wilderness at Villa Park. Bowery is hoping to catch the eye of Championship clubs during his stint at Donny, who face fellow Championship strugglers Yeovil today.
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Sky Sports: Javier Zanetti has brushed off speculation linking him with a move to Chelsea by insisting that Inter Milan is his 'life and home'. Reports had suggested that Blues boss Jose Mourinho was interested in signing 40-year-old Zanetti and offering him a role as player/coach at Stamford Bridge.
BBC Sport: Manchester United have confirmed that striker Wayne Rooney has signed a new five-and-a-half-year contract. The 28-year-old England international has extended his current contract by four years in a deal worth up to £300,000 a week.
Sky Sports: Luis Suarez believes he can achieve his 'dreams' at Liverpool, one of those being playing in the Champions League. The Uruguay forward has enjoyed a wonderful campaign thus far, with 23 goals in his 21 Premier League games and 10 assists.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.