The Sun reports that Tottenham have put a cash-plus-player deal to Aston Villa as they seek to broker a move for the Birmingham club’s Christian Benteke. Paul Lambert would reportedly have the pick of Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Scott Parker, Jake Livermore and Tom Huddlestone, but it’s difficult to see any of them fitting in at Villa Park.
Aston Villa must be commended for the brave fashion in which they have dealt with the bloated squad left them by Martin O’Neill.
The gamble of shipping out many of the highly-paid senior pros on their books and building a new squad of young players narrowly avoided backfiring last term, but with this season likely to bare the fruits of that trial by fire in terms of team spirit and progression, bringing in an older cast-off might seem a backwards step.
As such it would be hard to foresee a move for either 32-year-old Parker or 29-year-old Assou-Ekotto appealing to Lambert.
Parker was a disconcertingly hobbling presence at times last term and there was a noticeable downturn in guile in the Lilywhites’ engine room when he came in more regularly after Sandro’s injury.
Assou-Ekotto – whilst still a classy practitioner with the occasional penchant for a thunderbolt from distance – will likely command big wages and with Lambert having already brought in Antonio Luna from Sevilla to play left-full back, other positions are in greater need of reinforcement.
Tom Huddlestone’s career has stubbornly refused to catch fire at White Hart Lane, but the midfielder’s wages – as with his more venerable colleagues – may prove a stumbling block, with Villa operating a very strict pay structure and in any case a move to Sunderland is looking increasingly likely after the Black Cats met Spurs’ £5m valuation.
That leaves once-capped England youngster Jake Livermore, who has carved something of centre-mid Scott Sinclair career so far, making six loan moves during his stay at the Lane.
Seemingly rated by Andre Villas Boas on his arrival in Londinium’s northern climes, he started the first three games of the season alongside Sandro, before the pair’s lack of creativity led to a rethink.
As a young player with some top flight experience, taking him as a makeweight in the Benteke deal would make most sense for Villa, but there must be some lingering doubts as to what he would really add to side that already have Yacouba Sylla and Fabian Delph doing the bustling in their midfield ranks.
As such it seems that rather than mimic Sunderland as a repository for those that don’t make the grade at White Hart Lane or Old Trafford, Villa might be better off playing hard-ball for more Benteke cash from their hard-bargaining friends at Tottenham.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.