Date: 13th July 2013 at 10:27pm
Written by:
By: Chris Heath

Christian Benteke became a Holte End hero in just one season, but now the 22 year old can consider that a distant memory.

The Belgian hitman scored an unbelievable 19 goals in the Premier League (23 in all competitions) in his first season in English football and was the 3rd highest scorer in Europe, behind Messi and Ronaldo since the turn of the year. But now Benteke has well and truly burned his bridges with Villa fans, after handing in a transfer request on Tuesday evening.

The vibrations of ‘Ohhhhhh Christian Benteke’ from the Holte End during match days and for a predominant duration of away games will no longer be heard, instead during Villa’s second game of their pre season tour of Germany against Paderborn, 250 odd fans were heard to be singing, ‘We don’t care about Benteke, he don’t care about me, all I care about is AVFC’.

Benteke’s decision has outraged Villa fans, as well as former players and managers including Ian Taylor and John Gregory, summed up Benteke as, ‘not showing the club, that took the gamble of paying seven million for an unknown in August last year, any respect’. Villa fans sang his name continuously, since his first goal for Villa against Swansea at Villa Park; he still has three years left on his original four year contract.

His agent Eris Kismet’s so called ‘words of advice’ cough, ‘if you move to a bigger club you will earn yourself and me significantly more money than you are here’ have proven too strong for Benteke to ignore. But we aren’t talking about a footballer who is trying to gain his first professional contract, we are talking about a 22 year old full International who can surely can make up his own mind what is best for him/his family and his career; a silly footballer at that.

It was considered a surprise too many fans (not myself) when the news broke Benteke wanted to move on, though it shouldn’t of come as much as a surprise looking at his conduct at former clubs Genk and Standard Liege. When at Genk, he went on strike and refused to play when Villa first tabled an offer of 5.5 million for him and it was rejected and previous to that when at Standard Liege, he refused to go out on loan; the writing was already written on the wall.

Paul Lambert has given the rebellious striker until next Thursday (18th) to sort out his head and decide what he wants, but if you analyse the situation Villa hold all the cards. If someone matches Villa’s valuation (rumoured to be around 25-30 million) for Benteke he can freely move and then face the backlash, a la Barry at his first appearance back at Villa Park appearing in another team’s colours.

But if no one matches the valuation Benteke could have a problem. He has already burnt his bridges with Villa fans (in a recent online poll by the Birmingham Mail 73% of fans wanted him out) and his new £40,000 contract has been taken off the table, but let’s not forget something else, it’s 2014 World Cup year.

He has stated on several occasions his dream is to play, presumably start for Belgium at next year’s World Cup in Brazil, but if he decides to pull a stunt like he did at Genk he will risk losing his starting/or even place in the squad to either former strike partner at Genk, Jelle Vossen or Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku, amongst others.

I really can’t see Lambert making him rot in the reserves during World Cup year, sure Darren Bent or Stephen Ireland (both on significantly higher wages than Benteke) will know the answer and confirm to Christian all will be fine. Gareth Barry could also lend Christian a few words of advice, the conversation might mention, losing the Villa captaincy, being fined two weeks wages and a certain News of the World interview, all during 2008 when Barry was tried to manoeuvre a move to Liverpool; never even happened after all that.

Possible suitors for Benteke seem to be either Spurs or Chelsea, contrary to reports in the British press linking him with every team under the sun; listing them all would probably take up a few more pages in the current font I’m using, 12 arial.

Villa dug their feet in the deals which involved Barry, Milner and Young, so unless they receive their valuation of Benteke he will not be going anywhere.

It seems more likely Chelsea and the returning ‘Special One’ Jose Mourinho will spend big to bring the striker to Stamford Bridge; Torres cost 50m from Liverpool, so surely Benteke is worth half or slightly more.

Spurs are keen on a player plus cash bid for Benteke, but Villa won’t be willing to do any favours for the North London outfit, after the disaster that was Jermaine Jenas’s loan spell at Villa in 2011. Jenas had only played three games for Villa when he ruptured his achilles tendon against Manchester United and was ruled out for the remainder of the season; Villa were left to fork out his wages for the rest of the season, even though he couldn’t play.

Fringe players like Scott Parker, Jermaine Defoe and Tom Huddlestone have all been to of reported to been offered to Villa by Spurs as make weights in the Benteke deal. But none will fit in with Paul Lambert’s philosophy of young and hungry players on low wages in the slightest; maybe AVB could offer Lennon + cash to start negotiations instead of bidding 20 million, a simple decision for chairman Randy Lerner, rejected.

Christian Benteke has well and truly come out of the decision to hand in a transfer request in a less than shinning light. He has burnt his bridges with Villa’s fans and even Villa’s hierarchy and has now even put his dream of a World Cup place next year in Brazil in jeopardy. Gabby Agbonlahor’s dedication to Villa should be something Mr Benteke had really looked at before he made his advice dependent decision.

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