With the likes of Liverpool reported to be circling, Villa look set to face a fight to keep hold of their star striker this summer.
With 49 goals in 99 total appearances since signing from Genk in August 2012, it is little surprise that Christian Benteke’s Aston Villa future has been the subject of frequent speculation over the past three seasons.
The Belgian striker even handed in a transfer request following his impressive debut campaign, when he bagged 19 goals in 34 Premier League games, but was persuaded to withdraw it soon after with a contract extension until 2017.
Villa were also able to hold onto to him last summer, due to the ruptured Achilles which led to a miserable first half of this term, but the respite from the departure rumours proved short-lived.
Having returned to top form with a bang under new boss Tim Sherwood, scoring 12 goals in the past 11 matches, Benteke’s name is now back in the headlines and linked with a whole host of major clubs.
Amid reported interest from Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Roma [h/t Daily Mail], the Sun have claimed that the in-form front man is set to force through a £30 million transfer to Anfield, which would double his wages to £100,000-per-week.
For Villa fans, that should come as concerning news considering that Sherwood has stressed in recent weeks that he will not keep his star man from leaving if he demands a move, but it is also important to stand back and take a view of the bigger picture.
At age 24, Benteke is fast-becoming one of Europe’s deadliest finishers and should be starring for a Champions League club – not one which has been fighting relegation for the past five campaigns.
Things might be looking up at Villa Park now with Sherwood at the helm but, such is the nature of the modern game, it seems almost inevitable that he will end up at a team with the spending-power of Chelsea, Liverpool or United in the future.
That in mind, given his age, track record and current impressive form, this summer might well be the best time for Villa to reluctantly offload their most prized asset given the potential return.
The reported £30 million fee looks somewhat cheap considering Everton forked out just £2 million less for compatriot Romleu Lukaku but, with the likes of Liverpool known to be desperate to add more firepower to their ranks, it seems feasible that Benteke’s signature could fetch a much more sizeable sum – one which would allow Sherwood to strengthen his squad across a number of areas.
The main counter argument to make, however, is that Benteke’s goalscoring impact will prove tremendously difficult for a club like Villa to replace.
Possible replacements such as Charlie Austin, Emmanuel Adebayor or even the once-ousted Darren Bent could offer some value but none would be able to provide the same kind of impact as their current main man.
With Villa looking to push on and get back challenging for Europe, losing their biggest talent would prove a significant blow to those ambitions and, having proven so crucial towards fighting off relegation in recent seasons, some might even fear that his departure could set things up for another difficult campaign.
Whatever the case, the claret and blues will likely face a fight to keep hold of Benteke over the coming months and, while standing their ground would prove a huge statement of intent, it will be hard to blame them too much if the Belgian does indeed move on.