It seems to be tradition in the Premier League that players enjoying successful debut seasons in England are automatically questioned as to whether they can repeat that success the following campaign. It’s almost like a fear of second season syndrome for players.
Last season we all questioned whether Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke could replicate his phenomenal debut Premier League campaign this season and, it appears, he can.
Due to the 22-year-old’s return of 19 goals for Villa last season, it was inevitable that he was going to be linked with a big-money move to one of the Premier League giants. Arsenal and Manchester United were both reportedly interested in buying him and were ready to lodge official bids in the region of £20million for his services.
But what stopped them? Was it the fear that he might suffer second season syndrome? Was it the price tag? Was it because they thought they had better alternatives?
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The latter question is arguably the only one that applies to Manchester United but, it begs this next question: if Wayne Rooney did end up leaving Old Trafford in the summer, would David Moyes have brought in Benteke as a direct replacement? We may never know.
However, it’s Arsenal’s decision not to buy Benteke that is the most confusing. After all, they only just scraped a a top-four spot and the loss of Robin Van Persie was clear for all to see as he ran riot at Old Trafford, leaving the Gunners to rely on Olivier Giroud, Lukas Pokolski and Theo Walcott to provide the fire power up top.
Despite scoring 72 goals in the Premier League last season, Arsenal still appeared to lack an out-and-out goal scorer. Walcott finished the season as top-scorer with 14, five behind Benteke’s total for Villa.
And it’s Benteke’s goal return, along with his shot accuracy that should have had Arsene Wenger prepared to break the bank (for once) for the Belgian international.
Nineteen goals in 34 Premier League appearances with a 60% shot accuracy was Benteke’s strike record last term. A striker that achieves that kind of record in a team that spent a large amount of the campaign battling relegation is worth a punt, surely?
Walcott (14 goals, 66% shot accuracy), Podolski (11, 61%) and Giroud (11, 49%) were Arsenal’s best attacking threats, with Cazorla (12, 53%) being their shining light in midfield. By looking at those numbers, it doesn’t take a footballing expert to realise that, by adding Benteke to the Arsenal squad, you’ve significantly strengthened you’re attacking credibility. Arguably enough to mount a successful top-four challenge.
Benteke has hit the ground running again this season, with three goals in three games, all of which came before the transfer window closed. So why wasn’t Wenger banging down Villa’s door waving a blank cheque at Paul Lambert? Because he’d left it too late and Benteke has signed a new four-year deal at Villa Park. Too slow, Wenger.
You can perhaps see why Moyes didn’t find the need to bring him to Old Trafford, given the attacking resources he already has, but Arsenal’s decisioln is a mystery. There’s room for a Benteke-like player in Wenger’s Arsenal team.
And now with Mesut Ozil there to help out Cazorla and Walcott with the assists, the prospect of having Benteke alongside Podolski and Giroud up front sounds too good to be true. Unfortunately, for Arsenal, it is.
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