Christian Benteke's debut season in the Premier League was better than he could ever have imagined. He scored 19 goals for Villa, and was widely regarded as one of the best signings of the season.
Benteke reportedly asked for a move away from the club last summer though, with there being a lot of apparent interest in the powerful striker. However he did eventually commit himself to the club when he signed a new four-year contract.
This season has not been as prolific so far though, with just five goals in the league to date. He has had an injury to overcome, but since returning from that he went 13 games without scoring. That drought was ended on Monday night when he scored in the 2-1 defeat to Arsenal.
Speaking in The Mirror, the Belgian international says he looks up to Luis Suarez as someone who has overcome a lot of setbacks and controversy.
"It’s a lesson for every player. You can see what happened with him last season and he came back stronger. It’s a good motivation for every player, me also. Sometimes a striker can try to dribble, to do some skills and you lose the ball."
"If for example a striker tries to do something and loses the ball he will lose his hope and his confidence. But Suarez never, he will always try try try again. He will shoot one time outside of the net but he will try again until he scores a goal and that’s why he is a great player.”
Luis Suarez has of course made many headlines in this country for the wrong reasons. He has also ended up missing games for Liverpool due to lengthy suspensions, but he has never let if affect his game. His is arguably in the form of his life now, and is one of the best players on the planet. Whilst you cannot condone some of the things he has done, you have to admire the fact he has always been able to overcome the controversies.
Whilst Benteke has not quite had the same story as Suarez he has had to overcome some difficulties. Some Villa fans still may not be happy at the fact he asked to leave in the summer, and enduring a 13 game barren spell would be tough for anyone's confidence.
He has struggled this season, but he feels that after returning home for some recuperation, he is in good shape to start banging in the goals for Paul Lambert's side again.
“I have to say I feel better than a few weeks ago because I wasn’t 100%," he said. "I saw my dad when I went back to Belgium and he told me not to worry."
Villa fans will hope that he does have his confidence back, because they relied on his goals heavily last season, and it looks as though they will need them again this year.
"My dad told me that it’s the second half of the season last year that I scored a lot of goals," he added, "so I don’t have to worry about anything. Last season was the same, it was a bit hard between November and December and January and after that I started to score. He told me not to worry and he stayed behind me."
Benteke is only 23 and perhaps overachieved last season, with that has come higher expectations of him. There has been a focus on him this season and he has not delivered, but like he has said, there are still plenty of games to come, and plenty of time for him to turn his form around.
image: © little-pete