The Aston Villa boss says he was completely unfazed by Spurs’ move to sign the Belgian striker during the summer and was always confident of keeping the 22-year-old at the club
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert says he was never worried about the possibility of Christian Benteke joining Tottenham, after Spurs unsuccessfully bid for the striker during the summer.
The Belgium international handed in a transfer request at the start of July before performing a dramatic U-turn and signing a contract extension with the Villa Park outfit, with Tottenham baulking at his £25 million valuation.
The two sides meet on Sunday and, while Lambert acknowledged Spurs’ approach for the 22-year-old, the Scot was keen to stress that Villa never had any intention of selling their prize asset.
“I was on holiday. I was not bothered. I knew what was happening, I was never really bothered because I knew he was never going to go anywhere,” Lambert told reporters.
“I didn’t worry about it. I knew myself what was going on, so I was not going to get caught up in something that was never going to transpire.
“Are you talking about when Spurs came in for him?”
While Lambert ignored the reports linking Benteke with a move away from the club, he admits the young Belgian striker was affected by the speculation, though the Villa fans have already forgiven him for seeking an exit.
“Nearly every team alive were meant to be coming in for him,” Lambert continued.
“Some teams you don’t bother with. Unless I hear it from someone’s mouth that’s totally different, but you can read speculation all you want.
“It won’t really faze me until I hear it from somebody else. It never really prayed on my mind what was going to happen.
“I think there were a lot things going on and he’s probably getting it from all directions [and] your head starts to go. He was asked a lot of questions.
“I’m pretty sure it was the speculation that got to him. Speculation whether it’s wrong or right, if people have seen it in black and white in front of them they think ‘Oh, it must be true.’
“But you hear the crowd again, they are brilliant with him. I said to him: ‘You keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll be fine.’
“I think it was out of character. He has a good family behind him and he’s not that type of guy at all. He’s a nice, really humble guy and if he keeps working hard we can see where his career ends up.”