Yesterday, I started a series on the 5 realistic strikers that Arsenal can sign this summer. It’s good to dream big and desire all the Rooneys and Lewandowskis but it is also reasonable to plan realistically and consider the Mandzukics and Jovetics, the strikers within our financial reach. Having written about Mandzukic yesterday, I will move over to another realistic target today. But before I do so, let me add that the Croatian has won the UEFA Champions league and should we sign him, we will be adding an European Cup winner to our fold. In fact, the only one we will be having in a long while.
The Aston Villa Belgian forward is one striker that is well within our reach. He moved to the Premier league last season from Genk and did extremely well in his maiden season. He scored 23 goals in all competitions for Villa (19 goals and 4 assists in the EPL all in 34 appearances). He is blessed with blistering pace, good strength and good finishing ability. He is very composed in front of goal. At Villa, he scored all types of goals; tap-in which showed positioning, shots from outside which showed accuracy, headers which showed aerial ability. He is also very good at link-up play. His 8 assists last season is a proof of his unselfishness and
That coupled with his pace and strength mean he can play as a lone forward and can also play with another striker in a 4-4-2 formation. He is physical enough and towering at 6ft 3 and weighing 83kg, he has the height and physique to trouble any center-back. At just 22 going to 23, he has his best years ahead of him and can only improve. Above all, he already has Premier League experience which makes adaptation easier.
As against some of the targets that might be difficult to prise away, Benteke will be relatively easy. He plays for Aston Villa, a club that battled the drop last season and there are no assurances their fate would be any better in the new season. An offer of Champions league football and sizable increase in wages would certainly turn his head. On the part of Aston Villa, they bought him for a decent fee (8 million Euros), should they get an offer of 15 million Pounds which more than double what they paid for him, it would be good business and they can use that to invest in other areas of the team. They might not get such offer next summer should he fail to live up to the lofty standards he set last season. Benteke is open to a move should an offer from a team in Europe come. Hear his agent.
“If there is a team, a bigger team that is playing European football next year, shows an interest with Villa concerning Christian, I would lie if I said that Christian would ignore that.
Even Villa coach, Paul Lambert is bracing himself for the inevitable should an offer from a top 4 side come.
“He’s more than happy to stay if he has to stay but we all know he had a good season and it’s normal that maybe other teams are more interested in him and he might be interested to play European football, which is why.”
Arsenal should seize the initiative by dangling the carrot of not just mere European football in his face but that of UEFA Champions League and also dangle a decent offer before Aston Villa, one they won’t be able to resist.