Demba Ba

Aston Villa have identified Chelsea’s Demba Ba as the replacement for Christian Benteke this summer, according to the Daily Star.

Villa look set to lose Benteke just one year after signing him from Genk, after he handed in a transfer request earlier this week.

The Midlands club will now listen to offers starting from 25 million, with Tottenham thought to be favourites for the 22-year-old’s signature.

With that in mind, Villa have already stepped up their pursuits for a replacement, and have been trailing Ba, who is available for just 7 million after joining the Blues in the January transfer window from Newcastle.

The former Magpies ace does not factor into new manager Jose Mourinho’s plans at Stamford Bridge and will be allowed to call time on his short stay in West London.

While Villa could afford the transfer fee, the Senegalese striker’s wage demands could be an issue, according to the same report.

The 28-year-old is a proven goalscorer in the Premier League and despite fears about his record for knee injuries, Newcastle took a chance on him and he scored 29 goals at St James’ Park.

Intriguingly, Chelsea, who are also interested in Benteke, could offer Ba-plus-cash for the highly-rated Belgian international, but Mourinho is thought to have other transfer targets further up his wishlist, such as Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney.

Benteke also knows he would likely get more playing time at White Hart Lane than at Stamford Bridge and, with a World Cup year coming up, that could prove crucial when he decides on his next career move.

Whatever happens, Villa have told the player they are not prepared to be messed about this summer – and Lambert has warned the starlet that any business must be concluded by the start of next month or all bets are off.

Benteke has not travelled to Germany with the rest of the squad as they begin their three-game tour of the country.

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