Christian Benteke arrived in England at the start of this season with little fanfare. Many eyebrows were raised when it was revealed that Aston Villa had splashed out £7 million pounds to sign him from Genk.
However, his form this season has made the fee look like a bargain. 11 Premier League goals in 23 starts means if Villa are to survive, it will surely be down to the contribution of the Belgian. But, just how important is he to Paul Lambert's team?
It's fair to say 11 goals may not compare with the likes of Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez, however Benteke's contribution to Villa's low goal tally is what stands out. Villa have only scored 25 league goals this season, and Benteke has scored 11 of them.
That's 44% of the teams goals. The other main goal contributors at Villa are Andreas Weimann, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Darren Bent. However, under Paul Lambert's 4-5-1 formation these players aren't regular starters. In other words if Benteke doesn't score, then usually nor do Villa.
Not only does Benteke score goals, he makes them as well. Villa play on the counter attack and Benteke is regularly involved as he looks to hold the ball up and bring others into play. With four assists, Benteke also leads the way in this department at his club. Therefore, his contribution cannot be overlooked in terms of both goals and assists.
Being Aston Villa's leading scorer and creator is a big responsibility, especially in a team that is fighting for survival, but if the Belgian can continue his formidable form, Paul Lambert's team have a real chance of survival.
However, it looks increasingly likely that Benteke will earn a big-money move at the end of the season. Aston Villa may struggle to keep their prize asset even if they are able to keep their status as a Premier League club.
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