The 22-year-old Belgian’s manager said of his 22-goal forward who is nominated for Young Player of the Year:
“I’m not bothered if he’s nominated or not, as long as he’s performing for this club. We’ll have to wait and see whether he wins it.”
“No doubt we’ll look at his contract at the end of the season. I just don’t want him to be one-season wonder,” Lambert added, amidst speculation over the striker’s future.
Benteke signed for the Villains in the summer from Genk for a reported fee of £7 million and is currently tied to a 4-year contract, which expires in 2016. However, his sensational form this season for the survival strugglers has earned him ‘interest’ from a number of the Premier League’s elite suitors, most notably Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham.
Lambert’s primary aim at present is to ensure Premier League safety for Aston Villa but, regardless of whether the club stay up, his challenge this summer will surely be hanging on to his main man ahead of next season.
Perhaps that explains his defensive and protective response to the player’s contract situation – I’m sure he doesn’t ‘want’ him to be a ‘one-season wonder’ if he remains at Aston Villa but there are also undertones, a subtext perhaps, within that statement.
Whilst this season has undoubtedly been his most successful to date, the Belgian striker has a decent track record when it comes to goals per game ratios and returns.
This season he’s scored (on average) once every two games but that is something he has previous achieved with Genk and Standard Liege in 2011/12 and on loan K.V. Kortrijk back in 2009/10. Whilst this season may be an exceptional one for him, his current form has been the rule, not the exception over the course of his young career.
To those who would raise the argument that the Premier League is a tougher test need only look at his international record – he’s matched that goals per game ratio at U17, U18, and U21 level for Belgium and, in fact, between 2008 and 2009 he scored 10 goals in 10 appearances for the U19’s.
Paul Lambert may well hope that his ‘one-season wonder’ fears ward off potential bidders for Christian Benteke, his warning only serves to advertise the player as a consistent and attractive prospect for any club willing to meet his reported £22.5 million release clause.
image: © little-pete