Aston Villa are in a quandary, that much is true. Their top scorer, talisman and most valuable asset has itchy feet and wishes to make his mark away from Villa Park, most probably at a Champions League outfit.
Nevertheless, it’s not all bad news. Just imagine…
There could yet be merit in Tim Sherwood and co granting Christian Benteke his wish, even for a fee shy of the £32.5m required to activate his release clause.
This is not unchartered territory for Benteke or his employers of course. Villa had to ride out a speculation storm just a year after purchasing the burly Belgian striker from Genk, thanks to a prolific debut Premier League campaign.
Having blazed a 19-goal trail through the 2012/13 season, all manner of big guns were supposedly closing in on signing him the following summer and under their collective gaze Benteke handed in a transfer request.
That request was subsequently withdrawn by the then starry-eyed 21-year-old and having dug heels in over their valuation, Villa retained Benteke’s services.
The sense of déjà vu is particularly strong this summer, though this time around there are differing circumstances which provide ample reasons to do business anywhere on or north of the £25m line.
Firstly, there’s the spectre of another potential lengthy lay off after that debilitating Achilles injury in 2014, which kept Benteke out of the World Cup and the suitors deathly quiet last summer.
Suffering such an acute injury raises the prospect of a future reoccurrence, so making hay while the sun shines in terms of his showroom condition, is a definite positive for the sale, else risk the goods being tainted further.
Moreover, for all the flattery aimed Benteke’s way since his move to England, solid bids have failed to materialise in lieu of such an inflated asking price.
If the benchmark for a consistently-hot striker such as Jackson Martinez (92 in 132 for Porto) has just been set at £24.8m, then Villa would be daft not to listen to offers in the same ball park, albeit Atletico Madrid’s new addition is four years Benteke’s senior.
Such a sale, especially if completed early in the transfer window, would arm Sherwood with the time and money to replace him without rushing or scrimping.
Striking talents on the market such as Charlie Austin are as yet unclaimed, though the QPR man may take some persuading.
Alternatively, Sherwood could cast the net for a bargain from the continent or South America, a la Benteke’s £7m arrival in 2012, and reinvest in other areas of his squad.
Playing hardball for another season will also propel Benteke into the penultimate year of a contract he’s unwilling to extend, so any money recouped next summer is likely to be substantially less.