Aston Villa forward Christian Benteke hands in transfer request

Christian Benteke has stunned Aston Villa by handing in a transfer request.

The 22-year-old Belgium striker, who was the club’s top scorer with 19 Premier League goals last season, has been left behind from the club’s pre-season training trip to Germany.

Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and Arsenal have all been linked with the powerful 6ft 4in front man, who has spent the summer stalling over the offer of a new contract.

A club statement last night said: ‘For clarity’s sake we should make it clear that Christian had already been given extra time off until July 18 and was reminded that there are three years remaining on his contract.

‘We consider him to be a Villa player and expect that he will be with us for the 2013-14 season.

‘Having received his transfer request, we have also informed him that should we receive an offer within an appropriate time frame during pre-season which meets our valuation we would act upon it. But he will remain a Villa player should this not happen.’