It has been widely reported from Aston Villa that their star striker Christian Benteke has submitted a transfer request in order to force a move to a bigger club after just one season with the Villa club which saw him score 23 goals in all competitions. This request is a surprise to the Villa faithful and has been taken as a lack of respect to the club and manager who brought him in. Villa issued the following statement to confirm the news:
“In response to reports that Christian Benteke has not travelled to Germany with the club and has made a transfer request, we can confirm that both are accurate.
“For clarity’s sake, however, he had already been given extra time off until July 18th and was reminded that there are three years remaining on his contract.
“We consider him to be a Villa player and expect that he will be with us for the 2013-14 season.
“Having received his transfer request, we have also informed him that should we receive an offer within an appropriate timeframe during pre-season which meets our valuation we would act upon it. But he will remain a Villa player should this not happen.”
So what does this all mean?
Christian Benteke thinks he’s ready for a top club and he’s willing to anger his employers in order to get to a team that is considered a top club. That being said there are no shortage of interested teams in him ranging from Atletico Madrid to Borussia Dortmund to London rivals Chelsea and Tottenham. This comes as an even bigger blow for Aston Villa’s manager Paul Lambert who took the chance on him becoming a star by paying a decent fee (7.75 million Euros reported) and starting him over the club’s record signing Darren Bent not 11 months ago. Though Christian has repaid that faith with his outstanding performances all season and leading his team out of the regulation fight almost single-handedly,
Paul Lambert and many Villa fans will not respect his decision to leave after just one season with them. Rightly frustrated, Lambert will not want to see him go and put up a price tag of 25 million euros in order to scare any potential bidders into putting their money where their mouth is. As a Tottenham fan, this is where things get tricky. Spurs club record signing happened just last week with the signing of Paulinho from Corinthians for a reported £17 million (BBC). Thats about 8m more than what they just splashed out on their club record signing and Daniel Levy will not be batting his eyelashes out on that figure. Tottenham however, are in desperate need of a striker and one of the mould of Benteke ticks all of the boxes: Strong, fast, powerful, magnificent in the air, great hold-up play, good on the counter and all at the ripe age of 22 from a country (Belgium) that is making a lot of noise in the Premier League.
This season has stood out to be his best of his career and has lead to an increased amount of playing time on the international level which has seen him score 6 goals in 14 appearances for his national side Belgium. These figures and all the hype surrounding the player has made Tottenham more than interested suitors who are willing to splash out a club record amount of money on him due to the fact that he is a proven Premier League scorer (19 goals in 34 appearances) and his potential to be a starter for years to come. It all leads to the question: Is Benteke really worth it for Tottenham?
[While I try to answer this question throughout this beautiful article, as a Tottenham fan you must remember that while we are currently looking for a world class striker to lead the line, REMEMBER that if we purchase a player like Benteke we are essentially buying not only the player he is now (which btw I think is fantastic) but even more the player he will become. Basically I want you to remember we are buying potential and potential doesn’t come cheap. Though I wish it did so Levy would wrap things up already!]
Well lets just start off with cold hard facts. Benteke has scored 19 Premier League goals. Our striker combination of Adebayor and Defoe scored a grand total of 15. Just the cold hard fact that he’s scored more than both of them combined tells us something very important: that he’s a proven Premier League scorer. However you look at it, his position solely relies on him scoring goals and he has proved he can do that in one of the best leagues in the world in his first season. The number is not what impresses me however, what impresses me more is how many of his goals won his team points. Thats just it, its one thing to score goals, but its the importance of his goals that matter as well. The big Belgian has won his team 18 points with his goals and those 18 Premier League points will never be forgotten in their battle against relegation last season. Thats 18 out of 41 total points he’s won them. Thats nearly half! You can see why Paul Lambert is loathe to lose him as to the value he has in the team.
A certain criticism that appears when speaking about Christian is about his finishing ability. Now while he hasn’t scored some of the screamers Bale has, he is MORE than a capable finisher boasting a healthy chance conversion rate of 18.3% and an on target conversion rate of 40.3% meaning he doesn’t waste many chances when they come his way. [Benteke takes an average of 3.1 shots per league game and took a total of 104 over the course of the Premier League season (ftbpro.com).] He will most likely put them on target if he doesn’t score which would help another Tottenham player in Dempsey who is quick to finish a rebound. Now while these previous stats don’t tell the full story on his finishing ability, (for example his heading ability is quite outstanding) at the ripe age of 22 he is FAR from his prime which I can see him dominating in 3-4 years time.
However his goals aren’t the only reason Benteke is so valuable to a Premier League team. Its his overall play. His strength and power on the ball and off of it that strikes fear into opposing team’s defenses as well as his aerial prowess in the box. He has won almost 8 aerial duels per game. To put that in perspective, he is second to only Andy Carroll in that department. So far, he is unmatched in the air and on the ground physically. Don’t get me wrong though, he isn’t your average Andy Carroll battering ram type of player either! He’s as much of a creator as well as a finisher! Another cold hard fact courtesy of yours truly: Benteke has been averaging 1.61 key passses a game and has 4 assists in the premier league as well as another 3 assists in the League Cup. He has provided 53 key passes in 34 league matches and if you increase the level of talent around him, you can bet anything his shallow total of 4 assists will skyrocket especially with a superstar like Bale to finish off these chances. This can only bode well as he grows with time to become one of the world’s best.
What is also impressive about him is his game when he has back to goal. He does a great job taking down long balls and either flicking them on, or laying them off which is important when you have wingers like Lennon and Bale to take advantage of them. This was my biggest criticism of Jermain Defoe’s game and why I think he does not have the size or skill to lead the line for Spurs no matter how many games he starts. And while we are speaking of Tottenham strikers, my biggest criticism of Adebayor was his work rate and it is easily apparent how much Christian works for his team. He is a true work horse and defends as well as attacks as shown by his 15 tackles and 28 clearances up to April (According to Bleacher Report. I couldn’t find any other statistics since April). He seems to be everywhere on the pitch at times and his size is great for defending set pieces. With him on our squad, we could have the most powerful line-up in the premier league with players like Bale, Paulinho, Dembele, Sandro, Vertonghen, Dawson, Walker, Kaboul, and the list goes on.
However for every good thing to say, there is a bad. For example his outstanding involvement and work-rate comes at hefty price: it takes away the poaching and deadly in the box title some strikers love to have and fans like to see. Most of his goals come from build up play and while that is a good thing, its also a bad thing as it shows his positioning leaves a little to be desired. According to @EPLStatMan, Christian Benteke has been caught offside more than any other player this year with him being caught offsides a total 50 times. This shows a little lack of awareness and ultimately shows how much more he has to grow to be considered a ‘world class forward.’ Also, he can improve his ball retention skills as he only completed 64.8 percent of his passses (averaging 33.6 successful passes per game according to bsports.com) and was dispossessed 2.4 times per game on average and 83 times in total (ftbpro.com). Again though and I know I have repeated this many times over the course of this article but Benteke is still growing and can only get better in those departments.
So long story short, I definitely think Christian Benteke is worth every penny and we better get him now before he gets bought buy some oil rich club and becomes world class and becomes the World Cup’s star of the show. Now the price is the only issue and I think that 25 million is steep only because of the target it puts on his back to perform. Fernando Torres of Chelsea has shown that the bigger the target on your back the harder it is to perform (he has a 50 million dollar target btw).
Ultimately I think Levy should negotiate a price with a future sell on clause in it so Villa will see it more as a win-win situation. But i’ll leave him up to that. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed. By the way, in this article, I PURPOSELY didn’t address the fact that he requested a transfer. Loyalty is dying in football and if you’re trying to buy loyalty AND get a good price then good luck. Anyways thats all from me. Let me know what you guys think! Leave me some comments!
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