McLeish to decide Benitez's future
Birmingham City insist they will have the final say on the future of on-loan striker Christian Benitez.
Blues are thought to have agreed a fee of $8 million - just over £5million - last summer for the Ecuador international which would be payable should they decide to make the deal with Mexican side Santos Laguna permanent at the end of the current campaign. Benitez recently revealed Santos Laguna had been contacted by two other Premier League clubs about Benitez, who wears the nickname 'Chucho' on the back of his shirt.
But Birmingham are adamant the agreement they struck with the Mexicans means they will have first refusal on the player's full-time future. City vice-chairman Peter Pannu told the Birmingham Mail: "We have a date by when we have to decide whether to sign the player.
"What is being said elsewhere, what is happening in Mexico or if other Premier League clubs have come in, I don't think it is right for me to comment on that. We have a contract and, even if Santos Laguna accept 15 million dollars, so what? It doesn't affect our decision."
Pannu added: "Alex McLeish (Birmingham manager) will decide whether we exercise our option and we will respect and support him on that. If Alex thinks Benitez fits into the master plan, then he has a pot of money to dip into.
"If he recommends that we don't exercise the option, then so be it. His club can then freely send Benitez to the North Pole, Bangladesh, anywhere. We will know about Benitez's future in due course. We have not heard from Alex yet about him. The season is not over."