Paul Lambert has already shown his ability in the transfer market by signing a first-class striker. But can he do it again?
“Purely signing Benteke is enough to keep Paul Lambert in work for another two years,” he said.
“It was a stroke of genius.”
The problem with genius is that unless you are one, it doesn’t tend to strike too often.
But just 12 months after Lambert signed the Belgian from Genk for around £7million, he may need to pull another rabbit out of the hat if Benteke gets his wish and leaves Villa Park this summer.
In the end, Gregory’s words were not an exaggeration in the slightest. The Villa striker played a vital role in keeping them in the Premier League. Without his goals and his all-round play, they would now be planning for at least one campaign in the Championship.
Whether the 22-year-old leaves will depend on if anyone matches Lambert’s £25-£30million valuation, or if Villa reduce the price as the transfer window creaks shut in the desire to off-load an unhappy player.
But in reality, the chance of Benteke being a Villa player next season is a slim one.
There has already been a glimpse of the possible goals to come in the form of new signing Nicklas Helenius. The 22-year-old Dane scored within 10 minutes of his debut against SV Rodinghausen and has great potential following 29 league goals in his last two campaigns.
And yet the former Aalborg player is not a direct replacement for the Belgian, possessing a good touch but not the strength of either his future partner or his predecessor depending on what the next few weeks bring.
And so it is over to Lambert once more. A man who has already shown an intelligent approach to the transfer market that other managers would do well to emulate.
The fact that the former Norwich boss stuck to his convictions last season, in spite of a worsening situation, speaks volumes for his character.
The fact that he was ultimately proved right says so much about his managerial nous.
And the fact that he signed Benteke in the first place – along with some of his swiftly-improving teammates – is a clear indication that Lambert knows how to spend.
If he can sign another bargain this summer, there will be few doubting that he is a very special manager indeed.
Do you believe Lambert can sign another striker who proves to be just as good as Benteke?
image: © little-pete