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(Reuters) - Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke is eager to convince on-loan defender Mamadou Sakho to stay at the Premier League club past this season, the Belgian international has said.
Palace have lost just twice and kept four clean sheets in the eight league games where Sakho, who joined Palace from Liverpool on loan in January, has played at centre-back.
Benteke, who has scored 16 goals this season, played with Sakho at Liverpool and said that once 16th-placed Palace were safe from relegation, signing the Frenchman, who suffered a knee injury last week, would be the next priority.
"I'm trying to persuade him to stay but it will be tough," Benteke told British media. "He'll have offers from other clubs, although our chairman and boss will try to get him to stay too.
"He's made such a difference to us. First, we have to make sure we remain in the Prem (league), but we're not far away now."
Benteke, who joined Palace at the beginning of the season under former manager Alan Pardew, said the club had to improve next season.
"It wasn't the plan when I came to fight relegation," Benteke said. "Next season we have to aim for the top half of the Premier League table."
Palace travel to fourth-placed Manchester City on Saturday and a win would guarantee they remain in the league for another season.
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; Editing by Greg Stutchbury