Villa boss eyeing up Atletico striker to ease Benteke’s burden

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Tim Sherwood’s most pressing concern at Aston Villa is clearly ensuring Premier League survival, but looking ahead the former Spurs manager already seems intent on addressing the serious dearth of goals in his squad.

Rumours abound that Villa’s new gaffer has begun this process by running the rule over Atletico Madrid striker Leo Baptistao.

The 22-year-old Brazilian is by no means a household name having struggled to make a big impression among the star-studded ranks at the Vicente Calderon.

However, a loan spell at Rayo Vallecano where he spent time as a youth player has proved fruitful for Baptistao and alerted the likes of Sherwood to his potential.

The centre-forward has struck seven times in 21 La Liga appearances for the mid-table club.

Given his place in the current pecking order of strikers at his parent club, Sherwood obviously feels there will be room to manoeuvre with a possible deal this summer.

Baptistao has already notched three more league goals this season than Villa’s top Premier League scorer Gabriel Agbonlahor, who has three.

A laughable overall tally of just 15 goals as a team is by far the lowest in the division and has left the Villans hovering precariously three points above the red line, among the leading candidates at 13/8 for the drop.

The pressure to get goals spreads throughout the underperforming squad, but none have felt the pinch like Christian Benteke.

The Belgian striker has toiled since returning from a long-term injury back in October, netting only four times in 22 appearances in claret and blue.

Having blasted his way to 23 in an outstanding debut campaign in 2012/13 Benteke has it in him to be prolific once again, but sharing the burden of scoring with others such as Baptistao would probably aid Benteke’s return to form.

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.