I will always have difficulty seeing football as a job. If I didn’t, I could more readily accept that “players” work for their money, that their club is actually their employer and that when they are unhappy somewhere, they move on as any worker would if they were able to.
But as Christian Benteke becomes the latest player to threaten something only for that threat to yield significant financial reward – I suppose certain elements of the game I love will always cause me unease.
Having withdrawn his transfer request and signed an improved deal with Aston Villa, the Belgian striker has performed a U-turn every bit as surprising as Wayne Rooney’s back in 2010.
At that time it appeared the Manchester United striker was set for the exit, only to sign a new deal just two days after asking to leave.
Many believe Sir Alex Ferguson submitted to the pressure of the player – that United needed Rooney more than he needed them. And the same could be said of Villa and Benteke.
With Tottenham readying an improved bid for the 22-year-old, Paul Lambert gave him what he wanted – a contract that now extends to 2017 (and no doubt a few extra pennies for the jar).
The vast majority of Villa fans are no doubt ecstatic with the news. And they should be.
The Belgium international was vital in their Premier League survival last season. And with one campaign behind him, there is no telling how good he can ultimately be.
But three years after Rooney signed his United contract, that taped-up relationship now appears irreparable. And as much as a club can appease any player for a time, that time almost always comes to an end.
Lambert is on the verge of overseeing something truly exciting at Villa Park. What were glimpses last season may be far more regular occurrences in the campaigns ahead.
But just as Rooney grew disillusioned when he was no longer pivotal to the team, Villa fans will hope the players Lambert brings in compliment rather than usurp their prolific frontman.
Then again, if they are better than Benteke, it means Villa are doing something right. Maybe it is all about taking care of the present, allowing the future to take care of itself.
How long do you think Benteke will remain at Villa Park?
image: © little-pete