Paul Lambert has already shown with Darren Bent that he is not averse to leaving Aston Villa’s biggest names on the bench if for the good of the team and Christian Benteke has left himself open to the same treatment after handing in a transfer request.
Benteke handed in the request just 10 months and nine days into a four-year deal and this has left Villa in a strong position regarding his position as they are in no way forced to sell.
The asking price is reportedly £30m and this is a vast sum for a player that only has one big season under his belt, despite his potential.
Given that Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain is available for around £25m and Robert Lewandowski for a similar figure from Dortmund, these signings must look far more appealing prospects at the prices.
Still, it is Tottenham (8/11) and Chelsea (5/2) that head the queue to sign Benteke in the summer transfer window and the former looks the most likely destination given he could be their ideal lone striker for Gareth Bale to work off.
Benteke’s agent has been pushing for a move since the close of last season, but it was widely believed that the striker would remain at Villa Park for at least one more campaign with the World Cup on the agenda next summer.
First-team football will be vital if he is to repel the advances of Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas in the Belgian attack, but his hopes will suffer a major blow if frozen out at Villa.
And bearing in mind that his current deal is only in the region of £20,000 a week, Lambert may think this is a wage worth sacrificing to make a point.
Villa have already signed Nicklas Helenius this summer and there is every reason to believe that he was a long-term replacement for Benteke, who was widely expected to leave after another 12 months.
He could be thrown into the first team in the hope of making an impact in the same way Benteke did in his maiden Premier League campaign, while Darren Bent could be handed a second chance to make an impression, even though his high wages mean Villa would preferably sell.
Alternatively, Villa’s scouting system has already reaped some rich pickings and there is still plenty of time this summer for another gem to be uncovered.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.