Tim Sherwood has urged Christian Benteke to end speculation about his future by signing a new contract with Aston Villa.
Benteke played a key role in keeping Villa in the Barclays Premier League towards the end of last season.
The Belgian scored 11 goals in the final 13 matches of the season to help Villa secure their top-flight status on the penultimate weekend of the campaign.
Responding to rumors about interest from Liverpool, Sherwood confirmed earlier this week that he player had a “substantial” release clause, reported to be £32.5million, in his contract.
The Villa manager revealed after Saturday’s FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal that he is planning to sit down with the 24-year-old and offer him a new lucrative deal to stop him leaving the club.
“I will have a chat with him,” Sherwood said.
“I have told him I want him to stay.
“I want him to have a good season and score at the same ratio as he did when I came in here.
“I’m not sure what his plans are, he didn’t tell me either way.
“But I think it is right to talk to him about the speculation and put it to bed. We need to offer him a new contract, which the club are prepared to do, and he needs to sign it.
“When he does we know he’s not going anywhere.”
Even if Benteke does not sign new terms, he will not be leaving on the cheap.
“If no one meets the buy-out clause, he won’t be going anywhere,” Sherwood said.
Even though owner Randy Lerner is looking to sell the club, Sherwood has been told he can sign new players, providing he proves they will improve the squad.
The Villa boss hinted there would be wholesale changes in the aftermath of the 4-0 defeat to the Gunners, claiming the current squad possesses a “losing habit” that needs to change if the club is to avoid another relegation scrap next year.
“We can spend if I can justify it to the owners,” the 46-year-old said.
“We can all be mates, all jolly patting each other on the back but I don’t think we have a problem with the desire of the group.
“I just think today it was a lack of quality.
“We need to improve and not be a relegation-fodder team, and that will be difficult. You need to add quality and I can improve the mentality of some of them (already here) because it becomes a losing habit and we have been used to losing football matches for far too long.”
Tom Cleverley is at the top of Sherwood’s shortlist.
The midfielder scored three goals in the final five league games of his season-long loan from Manchester United.
Louis van Gaal is not interested in the England international, who is now out of contract, and Sherwood wants him to remain.
“I have told Tom I want him to stay,” Sherwood said.
“We will have a chat with his representatives and see if we can get a deal done.
“He will have a few options. He’s enjoyed his time here, I think he has flourished.”
Persuading Ron Vlaar to sign a new contract is also high on Sherwood’s list of priorities.
“I have told him I want him to stay so we will have a chat with him as well,” Sherwood said of the Dutchman, whose contract expires next month.
Before the cup final, Sherwood told a number of his players they were surplus to requirements.
“It’s right I give them the heads up that they can go and find a new club,” he said.
Carles Gil, Andreas Weimann, Aly Cissokho, Matt Lawton, Antonio Luna and Nicklas Helenius are just a few of the players who could leave.
Regardless of how successfully his close-season revamp goes, it will take some time for Sherwood to get over leading Villa to the biggest FA Cup final defeat in 21 years.
Despite being an Arsenal fan, Sherwood’s father, John, did not enjoy the day either.
“He had a free ticket,” the Villa manager said.
“He will be sick, gutted.”
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