So Where Next for Christian Benteke?

Picture the scene: you’ve scored ten goals in ten games after a lengthy lay-off through injury, and your team avoids relegation by the skin of their teeth.

Scouts from across Europe are watching you, and some of football’s biggest names are politely enquiring after your services. You have a release clause written into your contract that states you can leave if a minimum fee is paid and you could lead to one of the biggest transfer deals of the summer.

This is the scenario that Christian Benteke finds himself in, and the ball is now firmly in his court and that of his agent.

They have both made it abundantly clear that the Belgian wants to try his hand in European competition, and despite Aston Villa offering him a bumper new contract to stay at the club it seems as though that might be a futile gesture.

His reported £32 million release clause is significant, but not beyond the chequebooks of the English footballing glitterati either.

So where will the want-away Belgian end up come the end of the summer?

Chelsea

There are considerable boots to fill at Stamford Bridge after the release of club legend Didier Drogba, and Benteke has the sizeable frame to take over the mantle.

Whilst it’s clear he would have to play second fiddle to the prolific Diego Costa, he will also know that the Spaniard endured a wretched glut of injuries in the 2014/15 campaign.

And so whilst he may not feature in too many Champions League clashes should Costa stay fit, Benteke will get plenty of game time for a side who will once again be in the title mix and challenging on four fronts. That is tempting in itself.

Jose Mourinho has himself recognised the need to sign a new striker to keep his squad ‘on their toes’, and Eden Hazard has recently been quoted as saying he would be the ‘happiest man in the world’ if his Belgium colleague signed.

The £32 million fee is small change to Roman Abramovich as well, so watch this space.

Likelihood: 8/10

Manchester City & Arsenal

Two clubs that Benteke almost certainly won’t end up at are Manchester City and Arsenal.

At City, that’s because of the sheer presence of Sergio Aguero, who is – naturally – his side’s first choice striker. And with Pellegrini preferring to play with just one up front, the Belgian’s game time would be minimal.

Besides, City splashed out big bucks on Wilfried Bony – a player of similar stature and style – as recently as January.

It’s a similar story at Arsenal where Arsene Wenger, who has a penchant for short, skilful players in nature, already has his own bruising brute in the form of Olivier Giroud.

Likelihood: 1/10

Manchester United

Fans of the Red Devils are expecting something of a clear-out at Old Trafford in the coming weeks and months, and one of these players is likely to be Robin Van Persie, who has been linked with a host of clubs overseas.

That would leave Wayne Rooney as the only recognised striker at Louis Van Gaal’s disposal, and so reinforcements are needed if United plan on becoming creditable title and Champions League contenders.

The signing of Benteke has less risk attached to it than bringing in an unproven talent from the continent, and that will be in the money men’s thinking. The big Belgian also bagged 15 goals last season for a non-creative Aston Villa side, and that too will resonate with the Dutch gaffer.

Likelihood: 7/10

Liverpool

Following the sale of Luis Suarez and the ongoing injury woes of Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool are crying out for a proven goalscorer.

Whether they will want to invest the £32 million required to snare the Villa man, whilst they still have the likes of Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert on the books, is anybody’s guess, but they will have the revenue from the expected sale of Raheem Sterling to play with.

Brendan Rodgers is on record as saying that he will leave no stone unturned this summer in order to propel the Reds back into the Champions League mix, and Benteke could be just one of many arrivals through the Anfield front door.

Likelihood: 8/10

Spurs

With Harry Kane enjoying an ascent of almost astronomic proportions, it wouldn’t be classed as prudent business to fork out £30 million on another frontman when your formation dictates that you only play one up top. So expect Mauricio Pochettino to leave Benteke well alone.

There may well be a striking vacancy though – it’s unlikely that Roberto Soldado will survive the chop – but expect a smaller, quicker alternative to compliment Kane rather than a Belgian bulldozer in the shape of Benteke.

Likelihood: 2/10

The Verdict

It looks a two-horse race for Benteke’s signature then between Chelsea and Liverpool.

It is unknown whether or not Jose Mourinho is a fan of the player however, and with concerns over his job Brendan Rodgers might see Benteke as a risk to far.

This could leave the door ajar for Manchester United, although Van Gaal is known to prefer more lightweight, technical players.

So it’s certainly worth keeping an eye out for developments, but whichever club secures Benteke’s signature are in for a treat if he can recapture the form he showed towards the end of last season.

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