Ever since Christian Benteke arrived at Aston Villa in 2012 and scored on his debut, it seemed like the former Genk forward would find his way to one of the Premier League’s bigger clubs.
It’s a wonder Villa have managed to hang onto him this long given his goalscoring prowess and his ability to bully defenders with his bustling physique.
Finally now however, it seems that the big Belgian is departing.
Liverpool will open contract discussions after triggering his £32.5 million release clause.
How though, does Tim Sherwood replace a man that has scored almost a goal every other game for his entire time at Villa Park? Even with all those millions, the right man will be hard to find.
Here are three options…
Austin should have plenty of suitors given his superb form last season in the top flight.
Newcastle United are hot favourites to secure the 26-year-old’s signature, but Villa could consider a late attempt to hijack the deal now they look certain to secure a big windfall from Benteke.
A very natural finisher and a forward with superb technique, Austin was the fourth highest scorer in the top flight last term.
These kind of attributes and statistics are exactly what Villa require to ensure they are not dragged into a scrap at the wrong end of the table next season.
At 6ft 2in the former Burnley man would also maintain a robust edge to the Villains’ forward line. Austin is a classic late developer and even spent time working as a bricklayer during the journeyman early years of his career.
He now seems destined to feature in the Premier League for the next few years and will want to force himself into the England set up. Could Sherwood convince him that Villa Park is the place to catch Roy Hodgson’s eye?
The Togolese forward looks like a predictable target given his desire to leave Tottenham and his current employers’ wish to shift him from their wage bill.
The 31-year-old has been heavily linked with a move to Villa Park; mainly due to the fine form he showed during Sherwood’s stint in charge of Spurs last year.
His physical presence would make him an ideal stopgap to fill the void left by the departing Benteke and if anyone can get the best out of him then it’s Sherwood.
The former Arsenal and Manchester City man is notoriously difficult to motivate and Villa fans would be uneasy that his mood swings would be detrimental to his chances of carrying their goalscoring burden.
There are further drawbacks too, including his age and his hefty wage demands.
He is however a player who has proven he can be prolific in the Premier League and is also vastly experienced, having spent his career in the top leagues of France, England and Spain, including a loan spell at Real Madrid.
No-one has ever doubted Hernandez’s ability to find the net when given an opportunity.
Perhaps it is the fact that his small stature means he does not offer enough as a focal point to have ever really established himself in the Premier League.
The little Mexican has an excellent goalscoring record, especially when considering how many of his appearances have come from the bench. He is an extraordinary poacher, the ultimate grab-a-goal man.
Would Villa create enough chances for him though? Benteke is the type of player that creates his own openings. Chicharito on the other hand is deadly in the right circumstances but has less of an impact on the attack until he is ready to pounce.
A finisher of his calibre nevertheless, is not an option Sherwood would be wise to overlook.
The likes of West Ham and Stoke are reported to be interested, so Villa should at least explore the possibility.
The added complication is the fact that the forward is currently facing a lengthy injury lay off. United themselves are also short on strikers and Louis Van Gaal is unlikely to entertain offers until he has recruited reinforcements.