Scoring 19 goals in his first season at Aston Villa, the man in focus is Christian Benteke. Having submitted a transfer request at the season’s end to follow his ambitions of playing for a bigger club, the wily Belgian disappointed his suitors by putting pen to paper on a new deal, a deal that doubles his wages and earns Villa the security they so badly needed. A price-tag of 25million for the striker was one of several desperate measures Villa took to stop Benteke from moving, and he now has repaid the faith to the Holte End faithful as well as Paul Lambert who was the key in bringing him to Birmingham. The former Genk man adapted to the Premier League effortlessly and is already dubbed as the new Didier Drogba, partly because of his color and mostly because of his ability to lead the line to perfection. It can be said that without Benteke, Villa wouldn’t have survived last season. The drop looked a real possibility until he intervened, scoring important goals and leading his club to safety. Aston Villa is a big club, bigger than any in the Second City and barely scraping through the finish line is not what their fans expect. Villa fans were patient enough to support Lambert and Co in their disastrous campaign and their patience will again be tested to the hilt this coming season. A lot of teams in and around Aston Villa have strengthened so far in the summer transfer window, but with Benteke signing the new deal that will run up till 2017, Villa may already have made their biggest deal of the summer. Benteke holds the key to the Villa’s future; he is the poster boy of the Lambert revolution, a youngster who made the seasoned campaigner in Darren Bent starving for game time. Villa fans will be happy to see their man back in training and with no sign of Christian moving elsewhere, it could well be a successful summer and the coming season could be something of a watershed season for the club. But all hopes rest on the goals of Benteke and his youthful shoulders are more than capable of carrying the burden of expectations.
One of several reasons mooted for Benteke signing the deal was that he wasn’t going to scupper his chances of making it to the World Cup in 2014 by going to another club where he could’ve been the second fiddle. For a country that rarely qualifies for international showpiece tournaments, Benteke could do no worse than missing out on the World Cup, with Belgium well on course to qualify. The youngster is a brilliant mix of power and finesse, the price Villa paid for him, around 7million pounds looks a bargain by a mile. There’s little he couldn’t do on the pitch, his finishing is at par with the world’s best and his off-the-ball movement is extraordinary. Add to that his aerial prowess and other facets of his gameplay, and we have one of the most complete strikers in the world. With player power on the rise globally, and clubs having their hands tied by them, it couldn’t be said whether Benteke will honor his contract or not. His new deal runs for four years, and if he stays at the club for that period of time, do expect Villa to be fighting again for the European places in the near future. But unfathomable things have happened in the beautiful world of football, and this could be a springboard for Benteke to rise further, and move to another club, a bigger one compared to Villa, in a year or two. But till then, his brilliance on the pitch should be enjoyed to the full, and dare we say, Aston Villa could be the surprise package of the coming season.