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Can Aston Villa's Christian Benteke become one of the world's best?

Will Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert be proved correct in his prediction that Christian Benteke will become one of the best strikers in world football?

During his first season in English football, Christian Benteke netted 23 goals in all competitions and made the £7 million Aston Villa paid Genk for his services look like a snip.

His power and ability to trouble defences both in the air and on the deck had many questioning why the Premier League superpowers had allowed such a talent to slip through their scouting net.

The Belgian looked like a world-beater and a man destined to reach the very top.

Injury problems have seen his star wane a little since then, with the 2013/14 campaign seeing his goal return halved as he struggled for fitness and opponents became more aware of what he brings to the table.

Benteke has also had to be patient this term, with an Achilles problem which dashed his World Cup dream followed by an untimely red card against Tottenham Hotspur.

He was back with a bang, though, against Crystal Palace in midweek as he opened his account to help Villa to a 1-0 victory and end a nine-match run without success.

Paul Lambert was full of praise for his frontman after that contest, with a man who represented the likes of Celtic and Borussia Dortmund during a distinguished playing career of the opinion that Benteke is very much on the way back up the world’s attacking pecking order.

He said: “Benteke has returned and scored a wonder goal. It was a great goal.

“I’ve been fortunate to play with some of the best players in the world, striking wise and if he keeps progressing the way he is, hopefully he will hit their heights. He’s a terrific player.

“He scored a fantastic goal and I’m delighted for him. He gave everybody a lift but it wasn’t just him.”

  SeasonGoalsGoal AssistTotal Scoring AttOntarget Scoring AttAppearancesMins Played
Christian Benteke 2012-2013 19 4 104 43 34 2,823
Christian Benteke 2013-2014 10 2 67 28 26 2,128
Christian Benteke 2014-2015 1 0 13 3 5 355

It is a bold call from Lambert to suggest that Benteke will one day stand alongside the great and good of the global striking pool.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, more forwards than strikers, set the standard at present, with Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero arguably the pick of the out-and-out frontmen.

How far does Benteke need to raise his game in order to reach those levels? Considerably, would appear to be the answer.

The is no doubting that he has the raw ability and potential to go as far as he wants in the game, but for now he needs to focus on steering clear of the treatment room and recapturing the spark which made him a Premier League revelation back 2012/13.

If he can do that then maybe, just maybe, he can start thinking about raising his status from that of a star, to that of a superstar.

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