Christian Benteke has thrown Aston Villa's pre-season plans into turmoil by submitting a transfer request that is expected to lead to Tottenham Hotspur making a formal offer for the striker.

Spurs watched Benteke on numerous occasions last season and, after becoming frustrated in their pursuit of several other forwards, will step up their attempts to sign the 22-year-old Belgium international.

Villa issued a statement on Monday confirming Benteke's transfer request, although the Midlands club are adamant that they will not be bullied into selling a player they bought for £7m last summer. With Benteke only 12 months into a four-year contract, Villa have insisted they will sanction his departure only if their valuation is met. That figure is believed to be in excess of £25m for a player who scored 23 goals in 39 appearances last season.

Chelsea, who missed out on signing Edinson Cavani from Napoli, and Arsenal, who remain in the market for a striker, could yet join the race for Benteke, although Spurs are the clear favourites. André Villas-Boas, the Spurs manager, has spoken publicly of his admiration for Benteke, and it is understood that the north London club made a preliminary inquiry for the player in February.

With Spurs missing out on David Villa, losing interest in Leandro Damião and struggling to persuade Valencia to part with Roberto Soldado, Benteke has emerged as the most plausible option for a club desperate to bring in a high-profile centre-forward and willing to offer players in exchange to make the deal happen. Benteke's age is in keeping with Tottenham's strategy to sign younger players and his ability to play as a lone striker will appeal to Villas-Boas.