Transfer talk: Where next for Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke? Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham or Arsenal...
The Belgian striker has put in a transfer request
Christian Benteke has rocked Aston Villa by requesting a transfer away from Villa Park.
The Midlands club will reluctantly listen to offers for the 22-year-old striker who scored 19 league goals last season, although any club will have to meet their £20m valuation and make a move sooner rather than later as Villa have said they want his future resolved quickly, one way or the other.
So where might Benteke go? We take a look at the possibilities...
The Blues have been the club most strongly linked with a move for Benteke since it was revealed he wanted to leave. It's understandable. Chelsea are in the market for a new striker and seem likely to be frustrated in their attempts to sign Wayne Rooney and Edinson Cavani. While not as established as that particular pair, Benteke proved in his debut Premier League season he has the potential to one day match them and would immediately provide healthy competition at Stamford Bridge. He also fits Jose Mourinho's preferred strong and combative style of attack.
There's no secret Tottenham need a new striker. Last season their lack of depth was exposed and it could be argued it contributed to their failure to qualify for the Champions League. With only Jermain Defoe, who blows hot and cold, and Emmanuel Adebayor, who blowed mostly cold last term, in attack - at least one new forward will be arriving. It was thought David Villa could be on his way to White Hart Lane but he's off to Atletico Madrid instead now. Benteke would be ideal.
Spurs' north London rivals might have something to say about it. With a £23m deal for Gonzalo Higuain close to being completed and a £30m bid for Luis Suarez sent to Anfield, there's no doubt as to the area Arsene Wenger is looking to strengthen. There are no guarantees either of those particular deals will come to fruition, but a sensible bid for Benteke would go through thanks to the Belgian's transfer request.
The future of Suarez looks increasingly likely to lie away from Anfield. What that means for Liverpool is a massive hole in their attack, and a pot full of money to go and find a replacement. The sale of Suarez would easily cover a deal for Benteke and the Belgian could strike up a partnership with Daniel Sturridge.
Benteke's prolific season at Villa Park hasn't gone unnoticed abroad. The former Genk striker has been linked with AC Milan, Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid - although the latter may be out of the running after agreeing a deal for David Villa. And of course, the 22-year-old could yet remain at Aston Villa, although after his performances last season, it seems inevitable someone will make a serious move.
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