Jose Mourinho’s Spurs and Dean Smith’s Villa were desperate for a new striker – but Christian Benteke opted to stay at Crystal Palace.
Christian Benteke has admitted to Didier Schyns that he was flattered to receive interest from Tottenham Hotspur and former club Aston Villa during the January transfer window, before instead deciding to stay at Crystal Palace.
It speaks volumes about how desperate two Premier League clubs were for a new centre-forward that, midway through the 2019/20 season, they both made a move for Palace’s £27 million millstone.
Benteke has looked a shadow of his once brilliant self for the last three years now, scoring just five times in his last 68 top flight matches.
But that did not stop Aston Villa from approaching a Belgian battering ram who lead the line ferociously in claret and blue before that ill-fated move to Liverpool move years ago. Tottenham expressed an interest too but, despite Jose Mourinho’s best efforts, they ended up with no one after weeks of speculation with countless centre-forward options.
And Benteke has now shed some light on why the most panicky of panic buys did not come to fruition.
“I take the interest of both those clubs as recognition,” he says. “Here, people are decent: they know you’re a good player, that you can bring something extra. Everyone goes through complicated moments without it putting their value in doubt.
“In England, all the parameters are taken into consideration, which goes beyond the number of goals scored. The number of aerial duels won is where I’m quite good. The pressure I put on the opposition defence, playing with my back to goal, the player’s professionalism, how he fits in a system: all that comes into play, starting from the principle that a player’s quality doesn’t evaporate.”
“(But) I needed stability, especially with the kids. Plus, I’m really happy at Crystal Palace.”
Aston Villa eventually ended up with Mbwana Samatta, a high-energy number nine who has become a cult hero already – aided of course by that bullet header in the Wembley cup final defeat to Manchester City.
Tottenham, meanwhile, would surely bite your hand off for even an out-of-sorts Benteke these days with Harry Kane’s absence coinciding with a disastrous run of form.