Aston Villa Focus – Benteke contract delay cause for concern

With three wins out of four in the Premier League, and Aston Villa finally out of the relegation zone, a positive mood has begun to sweep across the Midlands in recent weeks. With Christian Benteke scoring once more on Saturday in a vital 3-1 victory away to local rivals Stoke City, his £7m transfer fee looks to be one of the bargains of the season.

Paul Lambert was asked whether his fine form may earn the young Belgian a new contract at Villa Park before the end of the season, to which Lambert replied: “I think the most important thing is the league. We’re waiting until the end of the season. He’s got a contract here anyway as it stands, I think it’s important we stay in this league.

Benteke’s goal last weekend brought him up to 19 for the season, 15 of which have been in the league. He is five goals away from equaling Aston Villa legend Peter Withe’s 20-goal tally in 1981, and has almost achieved this feat in a team struggling to stay in the division. He will almost certainly be voted Aston Villa’s player of the season, and if Villa are to stay up, a lot will be down to the Belgian.

Due to all of these reasons and many more, a new contract is the least that Benteke deserves. On his arrival from Belgian side Genk, he signed on for wages of around £20,000, which in today’s game of inflated wages and over inflated egos is really next to nothing. When you compare Benteke’s wages with the reported wages of some of Villa’s bigger-name players in their current squad, it is hard to understand why a new contract has not been awarded already.

Darren Bent, Stephen Ireland and Shay Given are all reported to be on more than £70,000 a week, three-and-a-half times the amount Benteke earns, and none of them have yet to earn their wages this season. The middle player of that trio, Stephen Ireland, is currently outcast from the first team squad, training with reserve and youth players whilst he watches his bank balance grow.

Despite Lambert’s claims that Benteke has three years left to run on his contract, there is one and only one reason why he has not yet been offered a new deal. It is not for the fact that Villa might not stay in the Premier League – after all a quality player is a quality player in whatever division the club maybe in.

Benteke will not be offered a new contract because Aston Villa no longer have the power and the lure to keep rising stars of the game playing at Villa Park. Randy Lerner has failed to keep Gareth Barry, James Milner, Ashley Young, Stewart Downing and many more during his tenure, and with the announcement that star player Benteke will not be offered a new deal at this time, one can only assume the worst.

If Villa are to stay up, and it is still a very big of at this stage, they will need to change their selling club image, and the first step will be too commit Benteke to a wage that he deserves. If this does not happen soon, Benteke will almost certainly go the way of all the other quality players that have left Villa in recent years, and Villa will certainly be relegated sooner rather than later.

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