Aston Villa Must Stave off Arsenal, Tottenham to Keep Hold of Christian Benteke
It's been years since the fans had such an impressive and comfortable scoreline to cheer, and a big part of that was the clinical nature of Christian Benteke.
This time last season he was one of world football's best-kept secrets, and very few knew too much about him outside of Belgium. Fast-forward 12 months and Aston Villa will be bracing themselves for big-money bids to keep him.
It's going to be a tough summer. Tottenham have been heavily linked (via The Daily Mail) with Benteke due to the failings of Emmanuel Adebayor, and Arsenal are reportedly sniffing around too (via The Birmingham Mail).
After a hat-trick performance against Sunderland, Paul Lambert told Sky Sports News anchor Ed Chamberlain that Benteke "can be anything he wants to be" and "has a massive future in the game."
Naturally, The Metro turn that into "Lambert drops big Benteke exit hint."—frustratingly inaccurate print, but it serves as an early reminder to Villa fans that it's going to be uncomfortable in the offseason.
Just like it was with Gareth Barry, with Ashley Young, with James Milner and with Stewart Downing, Villa will be dogged by departure rumours rather than arrival rumours.
But the club simply have to escape the summer largely unscathed. The squad isn't massive, and in an ideal scenario Lambert recruits a new left-back and central midfielder to compete with the current stock.
But Benteke has given Villa fans something the other four never did—a glimmer of hope in that the club's £8 million gamble to take him in and play him ahead of Darren Bent is going to be rewarded.
Rumours have abounded in the past month that the "Belgian Beast" will sign a double-your-money contract extension should Villa stay up (via The Daily Mirror).
The 6-1 scoreline against Sunderland was coming: As a neutral it will sound strange, but Villa have won many admirers in the past two months after playing exceptionally well, and one day it was all going to come together.
The Black Cats were the unlucky side who fell beneath the mace, but bottle that 90 minutes and believe that's what this young side can do now they're fully jelled.
Taking out the centre-piece, the main attraction if you will, in Benteke will have massive ramifications; Bent may be on the bench and the fee recouped could be massive, but Lambert has built a system around the striker and it's vital that hard work doesn't go to waste.
Spurs fans will believe adding Benteke is the action that tips them into assured UEFA Champions League qualification and will be vying for his signature.
Villa fans fear they must start all over again should they lose the Holte End hero.
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