LONDON (Reuters) – Aston Villa will offer Belgium striker Christian Benteke a new deal and are confident they can make the signings they need despite uncertainty over the club’s ownership, chief executive Tom Fox said on Wednesday.
“We will offer Christian Benteke a new deal, of course we will,” the American told reporters after a Sport Industry Breakfast Club meeting.
Benteke has been linked in the media to several top clubs, including champions Chelsea, after helping FA Cup finalists Villa avoid relegation from the Premier League with 12 goals in his last 13 appearances.
Although the player has two years remaining on his current deal, media reports have indicated he has a 32.5 million pounds ($50.39 million) release clause and wants to play for a club who have qualified for European competition.
Fox pointed, however, to the example of club captain Fabian Delph who unexpectedly signed a new four-and-a-half year contract in January.
“No-one in the industry would have thought that was something possible or he even should have done and yet he did it,” he said.
“I think it’s very much about the individual and the relationship he has with the club and what his personal aspirations are.”
Villa’s American owner Randy Lerner has been trying to sell the club for some time and has said he will stand down as chairman regardless of whether he secures a buyer.
Fox said it would be good news for the club, who appointed Tim Sherwood as manager only last February, if Lerner stayed on but recognised that the uncertainty over the sale “certainly creates a dynamic”.
“Will that have an impact on how we do things and how quickly we do them? I can’t sit here and tell you that it won’t,” he said.
“I still believe we will be able to make the changes we need to make in the summer to make the squad more competitive for the start of the season.”