Transfer Focus: Christian Benteke
Our Transfer Focus series looks at Christian Benteke as the Aston Villa striker remains linked with a summer exit.
- Related Content
Few players made more of an impact in the Premier League last season than Christian Benteke, with the striker's goals keeping Aston Villa in the top flight as several top clubs across Europe sat up and took notice.
The prolific Belgian hitman ended the 2012/13 campaign with 19 league goals as Villa secured another season of Premier League football under Paul Lambert.
It was this form - which included goals against Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton - that has seen Benteke linked with an exit from Villa Park, with Liverpool the 9/2 favourites with Sky Bet to secure his signature.
Atletico Madrid and a host of Premier League clubs have also been credited with an interest in the striker, although Benteke's agent, Eris Kismet, claimed his client was recently "disgusted" by reports suggesting he was intent on leaving Villa in the summer.
Having sold prized assets James Milner, Ashley Young and Stewart Downing in recent years, it will be interesting to see if Villa decide to cash in should an offer come in that the Midlands club feel they can't refuse.
Who Wants Him?
Liverpool (9/2 to sign Benteke this summer with Sky Bet): With Luis Suarez's future also a subjection of colossal speculation, the world-class striker's situation may hinge on whether Liverpool bid for Benteke. Reports have emerged in recent weeks that the Reds would view Benteke as a potential replacement for the Uruguayan, but if Suarez stays then Brendan Rodgers may be left content with his strikeforce, especially if the prospective deal for Iago Aspas is finalised.
Arsenal (13/2): In November 2012, Benteke revealed his ambition to play for Arsenal and while Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolksi and Theo Walcott all had stellar 2012-13 campaigns, there is no denying the addition of Benteke would add a lethal option to the Gunners' strikeforce. Perhaps more importantly, Benteke would not represent an enormous expenditure for Arsenal, who could feasibly test Villa's resolve without bidding over the £20million mark.
Tottenham (7/1): With just Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor to select from, Andre Villas-Boas' selection of out-and-out strikers last season was thin, with winger by trade Gareth Bale often relied on to supply the goals for Spurs. Benteke would ease the pressure on the Welsh sensation - should Bale stay with the North London club - serving to offer Tottenham's attack more strength. Benteke has made known his desire to move to London and that could work in Spurs' favour should they decide to bid for the striker.
Atletico Madrid (8/1): Following the deal taking Radamel Falcao to the ambitious Monaco, a sizable gap has been left in Atletico Madrid's squad that will surely not be left vacant for long. The Colombian striker was an immense purchase for the Spanish side, scoring 70 goals in 90 games, and with a reported 60 million euros directed Atletico's way, do not expect the club to be shy in recruting Falcao's replacement. With money to spend, a haggle with Villa could yet see Benteke make a summer switch to Spain.
Get £100 from your free £10 bet with Sky Bet if Benteke joins Atletico Madrid
Also available with Sky Bet: Borussia Dortmund 12/1, Monaco 20/1, Manchester City 20/1.
Sky Bet's Paul Lowery writes: "As Liverpool make contingency plans for the loss of Suarez, punters have shown an interest in backing Benteke to move to Anfield over the summer. However, Villa's alleged £40m price tag may be a stumbling block for the Reds, who have been stung before by dealing for a striker with a fellow Premier League club over the Andy Carroll saga.
"The price tag of course may be a statement of Villa's intent to keep their star man, but it is believed that realistically it is their starting point for where they would be willing to negotiate from. Some of the other clubs in the betting may find price no object such as AS Monaco, but it remains to be seen whether Benteke would fit their requirements, especially after they just signed Radamel Falcao. However, Falcao's old employers Atletico Madrid have a hole up front to fill, and a lot of money fresh from that deal to go out and get their man. The side from the Spanish capital were as big as 18/1 at times to capture the young Belgian striker, but having been supported in the market, they are now into 8/1."
This season: 39 games, 23 goals - A stunning first season in England produced an impressive return, including a hat-trick in Villa's 6-1 demolition of Sunderland and a brace in the upset 3-1 victory at Liverpool
Last season: 37 games, 19 goals - Produced the form that saw a Premier League move follow shortly after, which included braces in Genk's respective victories over FC Bruges (3-0) and Kortrikj (4-3)
International record: 14 games, 6 goals - Has contributed two goals to Belgian's 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign, netting in victories over Scotland and Serbia which has propelled him into a mainstay figure in Marc Wilmots' squads.
Benteke, born in 1990, fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo with his family during the Mobito regime. They emigrated to Liege, Belgium, the country which Benkete would choose to represent at international level.
Benteke scored 40% of Villa's goals last season as the club flirted dangerously with relegation from the Premier League.
Benteke was nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award after his remarkable debut campaign in England, finishing as runner-up to Tottenham sensation Bale.
Benteke's first season in English football concluded with 23 goals. He exceeded Dwight Yorke's record for the most Premier League goals in a season (18) and became the first player since Juan Pablo Angel (2003-04) to score 20 goals in a single campaign.
Benteke collected his first and only medal in just his second year as a professional footballer, helping Standard Liege win the Belgian First Division in the 2008-09 season.
Get £200 from your free £10 bet with Sky Bet if Benteke joins Monaco
What Benteke Says
May 2013: "I am very happy to play at Aston Villa. When I came the fans gave me a lot of respect and I try to give it to them back on the pitch."
April 2012: "I was keen to come here because the manager was so keen to have me here. It's different when people want you. If you come for yourself it's difficult, so it's better when someone wants you. Since I was young it was my dream to come here and to play in the Premier League."
November 2012: "I am not afraid of making enemies at Aston Villa by saying I love Arsenal. There are worse things one can say. I am a Villa player for now. They are the right club at the right time for me. I have fulfilled a dream by playing in the Premier League. Now it is about staying as long as possible." Daily Express
What Others Say
May 2013: Benteke's agent Eris Kismet: "Christian and I are surprised and disgusted by a story in the Sun newspaper claiming Benteke can do what he wants. He has been misquoted. The true line is that Christian does not want to make a war with Aston Villa."
February 2013, Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert: "Christian is playing very well for us and that's the main thing. As far as I'm concerned, the guy is here and he isn't going anywhere until I say so or not really. That's the bottom line."
February 2013, Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor: "He's (Benteke) going to get linked with the top clubs, especially because of his age. He's young. He's gifted in what he can do so he's going to be linked with a lot of clubs. I think he's good enough for even higher than them (Arsenal and Tottenham)."
Daily Mirror, June 6: Aston Villa have slapped a £40m price tag on Christian Benteke.
The Sun, May 30: Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke, 22, is being targeted by Spanish side Atletico Madrid as a £17.5m replacement for Radamel Falcao.
Daily Mirror, May 23: Christian Benteke is set for further contract talks with Aston Villa when he returns from duty with the Belgium squad in the USA.
Daily Mirror, May 16: Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund have joined Arsenal and AC Milan by showing an interest in Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke.
Michael Owen, May 5 (@themichaelowen) - "If I were Arsene Wenger the first person on my shopping list would be Benteke. Sorry Villa fans!!!"
Vincent Kompany, April 29 (@VincentKompany) - "Benteke, I salute you! Superb Hat Trick! #astonvilla #belgium"
OptaJoe, April 29 (@OptaJoe) - "18 - Christian Benteke has now scored more PL goals in a single season than any other Aston Villa player. Hero."
Michael Owen, April 29 (@themichaelowen) - "I stand by my Bale for Player of The Year and Benteke for Young Player of The Year vote, especially after tonight!!!
BBC Sport, April 27 (@BBCSport) - "Aston #Villa would be 13 points off safety and facing the drop without the goals of top scorer, Christian Benteke"
Get £120 from your free £10 bet with Sky Bet if Benteke joins Borussia Dortmund