The pros and cons of the Christian Benteke injury
When the Christian Benteke injury news broke, at first it felt like a belated April’s Fools. In the end, it was shattering news for the player and supporters alike. The impact on Villa aside, Benteke at the forthcoming World Cup in Brazil was certainly one of my main reasons for looking forward to the tournament, regardless of its impact on him staying at Villa. For starters, he’d have been lending a cutting edge to one of the more talented teams in the tournament, who were dark horses to actually win it. We would have really seen what Benteke could do on the biggest stage in football and at the same time take pride in the fact he was a Villa player.
One slim silver lining is this injury didn’t happen to the Belgian forward this time last season, or Villa may not have avoided the drop when you consider Benteke’s vital goals in the final couple of months. Looking to the present and the future, the injury does offer up some interesting permutations for Villa, which we’ll weigh up below. UTV
Looking on the bright side
There’s no such thing as good news with an injury like this, but in the cold light of day, certain factors have to be considered…
1. Benteke will be a Villa player for at least another season (even if he potentially was going to be anyway). It’s very unlikely a team would risk buying a player with such a serious injury and one that is going to miss preseason. Villa brought Stewart Downing while he was still on crutches and we all know how that turned out. Villa would be expecting top dollar to part with their main asset, and they wouldn’t get that at this stage. You can put Benteke on your new 2014/15 shirt with some confidence now.
2. As Villa supporters we won’t have to suffer the usual circus of Benteke transfer rumours. I see the Daily Mirror have already been gearing up with the usual link to Spurs story, but thankfully that’s now been shot to pieces.
3. Currently, with both Benteke and Kozák injured, it gives other Villa players a chance to impress up front. It may even open room for younger players like Callum Robinson to get a chance ahead of schedule.
4. With Benteke often singled out as a target man for the hoof, it will perhaps encourage Lambert to seek to find more dimension in Villa’s play. Certainly the final games of the season have become more interesting for fans.
5. Villa are perhaps three or four points away from safety, so the damage to the team in terms of this season is at least minimum.
The doom and gloom
As Paul Lambert said, when he commented on the injury: “It’s a terrible blow both for Christian and for the Club.” There’s no two ways about it and here’s why…
1. Obviously, first and foremost is the loss of Villa’s best player. The player that gives you a chance against any team. Benteke may have been blowing hot and cold this season, but he’s been Villa’s primary source of goals the past two seasons and pretty much single-handedly kept Villa in the Premier League. Can Villa make progress without him?
2. Villa may have missed out on the best possible sell-on fee for Benteke, if you want to look at the cold hard finances of the situation. The World Cup is perhaps the biggest shop window for footballers, if they have a great tournament then transfer fees are grossly inflated.
It’s purely hypothetical, but if Benteke had a storming tournament and bagged the goals that took Belgium to the later rounds, the very top clubs would more than likely have come knocking, creating a biding frenzy that Villa could have taken advantage of. Forget £25 million, the ceiling could have risen considerably above that. The striker is at the perfect age for a top club to invest in, whether Villa will keep him until the next World Cup is highly unlikely, and even if they did, any club buying him then would know they would be unlikely to get any sell-on value for him with the striker being in his 30’s after a three or four-year contract.
3. Benteke will miss preseason and potentially a chunk of the start of next season. The uncertainty of the Belgian’s return date may make it more difficult for Paul Lambert to plan ahead when it comes to transfers. Does he rely on Kozák to fill the void until Benteke’s return? And potentially utilise Weimann and Agbonlahor more centrally? Will he show faith in Helenius? Or will he dip into the loan market as a short-term fix? The guess is he will go with what he has in terms of forwards and stick to the transfer plans he’s already hatched.
4. Villa’s preseason has been stunted before it’s started, in terms of integrating potential new players coming in and having them form an understanding with Benteke. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s not ideal.
5. Villa supporter’s main interest in terms of the club’s players in the World Cup has vanished. Hopefully, Lambert will get a Brazil-bound international talent in early enough to give us somebody else to cheer on this summer. UTV