Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Benteke to Liverpool? Villa should strive to hold on to him

The Beast of Bodymoor
It's all over the papers: Liverpool want Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke.

With thirteen goals in fourteen games, it's no wonder he's on the radar of every Premier League club with ambition.

But Liverpool? They're no longer a Champions League perennial and both fans and players alike looked as though they couldn't wait for the season's end.

With lame duck Brendan Rodgers at the helm admitting he'd accept the sack, what would Benteke be walking into?

Steven Gerrard, arguably the greatest to don the Red shirt played his last game in a 6-1 thrashing at Stoke which followed a final Anfield bow, a poor 3-1 reverse to Crystal Palace.

Raheem Sterling was pilloried, mocked and jeered by the travelling away support – Rodgers had urged the fans not to give him a hard time.

This is how they revere their star
So while Benteke prepares for the FA Cup Final with the inspirational Tim Sherwood coaching him to better form, why on earth would he switch to Anfield. Because they were famous once?

If a Champions League club came calling, it'd be more understandable for the 24-year-old Belgian striker to move on. EURO 2016 is on the horizon. Could Villa repel interest from Wolfsburg or Sporting Lisbon? It'd be harder.

No, this is a moment for Villa to use mere Anfield interest to secure him on improved terms over a longer period.

He's on a four-year deal until 2017 so adequate compensation for one of the Premier League's hottest properties is assured - but if Villa are to build on a bright young manager and his more focused squad, they need to treat Benteke as if he were a new signing.

I say pay him what he wants - and when his stock rises even higher next season, then accept his departure.

Benteke's farewell needs to be on Villa's terms. It's not now and it's certainly not to Anfield.