Where next for Christian Benteke?

Sports Mole assesses the options available to Aston Villa's wantaway centre-forward Christian Benteke.

It seems that loyalty is not a word that is in the vocabulary of many modern day footballers.

While they are only too happy to be plucked out of obscurity by a club, when a bigger outfit come calling, they are off quicker than a greyhound out of the traps.

The latest to fall into that category is Christian Benteke, who Aston Villa revealed last night has handed in a transfer request. He was picked up as a virtual unknown from Genk last summer for £7m, but his 19 goals in the Premier League have made him a wanted man.

Villa, quite rightly, have insisted that he will not be sold unless their valuation of the Belgian is met. However, as so often in these cases, the player rarely loses. After all, no manager wants to have an unhappy footballer in his team.

So, with that in mind, Sports Mole has assessed some of the potential destinations for the 22-year-old.

Villa striker Christian Benteke scores against Sunderland on April 29, 2013© PA Photos

Chelsea

Ask any Chelsea supporter who their favourite player has been over the past decade and any of those who do not reply Frank Lampard will probably say that it is Didier Drogba.

During his eight years at Stamford Bridge, the big Ivorian scored countless priceless goals for the Blues. His importance was highlighted in 2012 when he found the net in both the finals of the FA Cup and Champions League.

While you would expect a £50m signing to more than cover Drogba's departure, Fernando Torres has not consistently produced the goods.

Benteke is like Drogba in that he is a physical frontman who can hold up the ball and bring others into play. When you play an attacking midfield trio as Chelsea do, it is an essential quality to possess.

What's more, Benteke can score all sorts of goals. He will be in the right place at the right time for a tap-in, but is also more than capable of finding the top corner of the net from 25 yards out.

Some will argue that his fellow countryman and current Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku could also potentially have similar traits. Maybe, but if reports are to be believed, then manager Jose Mourinho has his eye on recruiting at least one centre-forward before the season gets underway.

Aston Villa's Christian Benteke celebrates scoring against Chelsea on May 11, 2013© PA Photos

Arsenal

Down the years Arsenal have always had a striker who could carry the goalscoring burden on his shoulders. During the Arsene Wenger regime, he inherited Ian Wright, before bringing in Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie.

The latter's departure last year to champions Manchester United passed on the mantle to Olivier Giroud. While his 17 goals in all competitions is respectable for your first season in English football, it's not going to win you the big prizes.

For years now the Arsenal squad has been accused of lacking a real physical presence. While it may have been aimed more at the midfield options, they have also not had the type of centre-forward who can hold off challenges.

Benteke can offer that, but he also has the ability in his feet that makes him a Wenger-type of player.

Whether the French boss is willing to part with the reported £24m to sign Benteke remains to be seen. If his move for Gonzalo Higuain falls through, then it may leave him little choice.

Christian Benteke challenges Mikel Arteta for possession.© PA Photos

Tottenham Hotspur

There are few Premier League clubs more in need of a striker than Andre Villas-Boas's Spurs. Such is the size of their requirement that it prompted this article from Sports Mole at the weekend.

Benteke is among the five players who we believe would be suitable for Spurs, largely because he is much more of a handful than the two current strikers at White Hart Lane.

Jermain Defoe has done well for Spurs down the years, but there were signs last season that perhaps he is not the poacher that he once was, while for the majority of the campaign Emmanuel Adebayor was as useful as a chocolate fireguard.

The young Belgium international showed at Villa last year that he is comfortable when spearheading an attacking front three, which with Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon on either flank, is a formation that Villas-Boas tried to use at times last term.

At the time of writing, Spurs are favourites for his signature.

Christian Benteke attempts to outjump Hugo Lloris.© PA Photos

Liverpool

It appears that Luis Suarez's position at Liverpool is similar to the one Benteke has made for himself at Villa. The Uruguayan wants to leave Anfield, but the Merseysiders seem to be keen to keep their talisman.

If they do relent and let Suarez head for pastures new, why not replace with him with Benteke?

Granted, he may not be the finished article that Suarez is, but he has the potential to be one of the most feared strikers in European football.

The funds should also be easy to come by for the Reds, who were willing to part with a similar fee for Henrikh Mkhitaryan before he opted for the Bundesliga and Borussia Dortmund.

Liverpool fans will no doubt remember his heroics during last season's clash against Villa at Anfield. He scored twice and set up the Villans' other goal with a back-heeled pass in a 3-1 win for the away side.

Aston Villa's Christian Benteke celebrates scoring against Liverpool in the Premier League clash on March 31, 2013© PA Photos

Atletico Madrid

Madrid's second side know only too well what it is like to have a centre-forward who is coveted by a number of sides. They lost Radamel Falcao this summer to Monaco for £50m and while the fee was hefty to say the least, it does not guarantee that they will be able purchase the players to score the 70 goals that the Colombian did in the last two seasons.

They have all but signed David Villa from Barcelona and for just over £4m, that is by no means a bad signing. Having said that, the Spanish international has struggled to replicate his best form since returning from a broken leg.

It means that Diego Simeone could well be in the market for another forward. After all, the Argentine coach is probably well aware that his side's goals have to be shared around much more from now on.

As the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo would testify, some of the defenders in La Liga are brutal. At 6'3", though, Benteke can look after himself.

A switch to the Spanish capital would also probably be preferred by Aston Villa because it would rule out the risk of him returning to hurt them.

Christian Benteke celebrates scoring for Belgium© PA Photos

Sports Mole says - Tottenham: Quite simply because their need is greater than any other club. It is believed that they wanted Villa, but he decided to remain in Spain. Having seemingly convinced Bale to stay for another 12 months at least, it's now time that they build and enhance their squad. It's unlikely that the supporters will settle for failing to qualify for the Champions League much longer, not when they threw it away last season. One of the main reasons they missed out was a lack of goals from the strikers, hence why Benteke fits the bill.

Napoi's Edison Cavani celebrates his goal against Parma on January 27, 2013
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