Aston Villa coach Paul Lambert believes his star-striker Christian Benteke is worth a similar amount of money to some of the most highly rated forwards in the world.
The 22-year-old Belgium international was signed by Lambert for £7m at the start of this season, and has been sensational, scoring 15 goals in 29 appearances as Villa try desperately to stay in the Premier League.
In an interview with BBC Sport, Lambert says that, despite interest in Benteke from a number of top clubs, he has absolutely no plans to sell such a key player.
“He is hot property. If you wanted to prise Christian away from here you would want a sizeable cheque, that is for sure,” said the 43-year-old Scotsman.
“He has the potential to be fantastic. If you look at modern day figures then £25m is probably a good start. We can’t stop people looking at him but he is under contract here. He is enjoying his football at the moment and doing fantastically well.”
Benteke is part of an exciting generation of young or in their prime Belgian stars, including the following:
Thibaut Courtois, Jan Vertonghen, Thomas Vermaelen, Maroune Fellaini, Axel Witsel, Eden Hazard, Kevin Mirallas, Moussa Dembele and Kevin de Bruyne.
They are being tipped by some as dark horses to win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil next summer.
LONDON (AP) Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri criticized his players for lacking “desire and heart” in a 1-0 loss at third-tier Millwall in the FA Cup fifth round on Saturday, the latest setback for the stuttering English champion.
[ MORE: FA Cup roundup — Premier League sides underwhelm in 5th round ]
Leicester, which is one point above the relegation zone in a woeful defense of its Premier League title, is without a victory in its last eight matches.
Millwall played most of the second half with 10 men and won thanks to a 90th-minute goal.
“I want to speak again with the players and say we have to fight every match,” an animated Ranieri said. “Who wants to fight? Tell me. I need the soldiers, I need the gladiators.
[ MORE: Fifth-division Lincoln City shock PL side Burnley in FA Cup ]
“It is strange because last season we won for this, to be more determined than the opponent and play with more heart than the opponent. We could also lose but we would fight every match. I want to see this, the fight until the end.”
Leicester’s next match is against Sevilla in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday.
Saturday’s FA Cup fifth-rounders served up the biggest Cupset of them all — fifth-division side Lincoln City knocking off Burnley of the Premier League — as well as two moderately shocking results — Leicester City losing to 10-man Millwall (League One) and Manchester City drawing 0-0 with Huddersfield Town (Championship).
[ FOLLOW LIVE: Sunday’s FA Cup 5th-rounders ]
On Sunday, two more of the PL’s big boys hope to avoid upsets and reach the quarterfinals of the 2016-17 tournament. First up, Tottenham Hotspur visit Fulham’s Craven Cottage in a renewed London derby, followed by Manchester United’s trip to Blackburn Rovers’ Ewood Park. For live scores and updates, hit the above link, or click right here.
Saturday’s FA Cup results
Burnley 0-1 Lincoln City — RECAP | REACTION
Huddersfield 0-0 Manchester City
Millwall 1-0 Leicester City
Middlesbrough 3-0 Oxford United
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-2 Chelsea
Sunday’s FA Cup schedule
Fulham vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 9 a.m. ET
Blackburn Rovers vs. Manchester United — 11:15 a.m. ET
Monday’s FA Cup schedule
Sutton United vs. Arsenal — 2:55 p.m. ET
Gianluigi Donnarumma has quickly become one of the most coveted goalkeepers in the world, and he’s only 17 years old.
[ MORE: Gameiro nets hat-trick in five minutes for Atletico ]
And that’s why AC Milan plans on doing everything in its power to hold on to the Italy international.
[ MORE: U.S. U-20s fall to Panama to begin CONCACAF Championship ]
According to CalcioMercato, the Rossoneri are preparing to lock up Donnarumma to a big deal once he turns 18 next week in order to fend off the likes of Premier League duo Chelsea and Manchester United, as well as Real Madrid.
However, agent Mino Raiola could stand in the way of Milan as they attempt to negotiate with the promising shot stopper out of fear that the club won’t be able to compete with Europe’s best teams.
Also, it has been suggested that Raiola is seeking at least $4.25 million per season for Donnarumma plus add ons, while Milan is said to be willing to go as high as $2.1 million annually.
Donnarumma is currently in his second professional season with Milan and has risen to the Italian national team level over the past year as well. The young keeper is seen as the logical successor to Gianluigi Buffon once his international career concludes.
AMATRICE, Italy (AP) Italian great Roberto Baggio marked his 50th birthday on Saturday by visiting towns devastated by earthquakes last year.
[ MORE: FA Cup Saturday wrap — Man City held against Huddersfield ]
Baggio opted not to celebrate his milestone surrounded by celebrities, and instead spent the day in Amatrice, which was almost wiped out by the Aug. 24 earthquake.
The former world footballer of the year, who met children and others from the central Italy region, said “it was very emotional,” and he went there with his family “to fully understand what so many people are going through.”
Baggio also met the mayor of Amatrice, Sergio Pirozzi, and said they will remain in contact, “and we will try to do something concrete.”
Baggio was moving on to nearby Norcia, which was also damaged, and there was a party organized with a birthday cake.
The Aug. 24 quake killed nearly 300 people and left a further 4,000 homeless. There were aftershocks for several days as well as more quakes in October and January.
Baggio, who was nicknamed “Il Divin Codino” (The Divine Ponytail) for the hairstyle he wore for most of his career, scored 27 goals in 57 appearances for Italy and helped the Azzurri to third place in the 1990 World Cup and runner-up four years later, when he famously missed the last penalty kick of the shootout in the final with Brazil.
He won the Serie A title with Juventus in 1995 and with AC Milan the following year.