The Courier-Mail

CHRISTIAN MAY BAIL FROM VILLA AFTER CUP FINAL

- WIRES

ASTON Villa boss Tim Sherwood admits his club is powerless to stop Christian Benteke leaving because the striker has a buyout clause in his contract.

It means that tonight’s hugely anticipate­d FA Cup final against Arsenal could be the Belgian’s last as a Villan, as English Premier League rivals Liverpool circle.

Arsenal stand on the precipice of history, as victory at Wembley would deliver them their 12th FA Cup title, taking them past the 11 titles won by Manchester United.

For Villa, an upset win would cap a positive end to the season for Sherwood’s men that could have so easily finished in relegation.

Instead Villa, who defeated Liverpool 2-1 in the FA Cup semi-finals, thus denying Reds legend Steven Gerrard a fairytale swan song, finished 17th, one spot above the dreaded drop zone.

Sherwood confirmed yesterday that Benteke had a substantia­l release clause in his contract that would trigger a move if met.

The 24-year-old has scored 12 goals in his past 12 games after regaining form and fitness under Sherwood.

He signed a four-year deal in 2013, having initially handed in a transfer request, but Sherwood admitted they now faced the prospect of losing Benteke after all.

“There’s a buyout clause in his contract so it will be impossible for us to stop him if he wants to go,” he said.

“Most players would have it when they sign new contracts. I don’t know what the figure is but I believe it will be quite substantia­l.

“He’s made no indication that he wants to leave. I’ve not had a conversati­on with him.

“I’ve told you my view on it, I don’t think he should be moving clubs before a European Championsh­ip.”

It comes as the one of the men who will be responsibl­e for stopping Benteke tonight, Gunner Per Mertesacke­r, conceded he lost his edge for a period after Germany’s World Cup success last year.

“The first few months, in particular, were quite difficult to come down and forget that feeling of being a World Cup champion,” Mertesacke­r said.

 ??  ?? GETOUT CLAUSE: Aston Villa's Christian Benteke.
GETOUT CLAUSE: Aston Villa's Christian Benteke.

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