On Tuesday, an interesting article by Adam Bate for Sky Sports on Christian Benteke got me thinking: I’m so glad Arsenal didn’t sign him.
Aston Villa bought Benteke for a reported £7m from Genk back in 2012 and in his first season he scored a huge 23 goals in 39 appearances. In the second season, however, groin, knee and Achilles injuries prevented him from replicating his success and he managed 11 goals in 28 – still decent.
In his final season at Villa, the Belgium international again found it hard to get over his Achilles injury from the previous season but still managed 15 goals in 34 appearances. Not quite at the level of his first season in the Premiership but far from terrible.
Despite Benteke not actually being any better than the likes of Giroud, in 2013 Arsenal fans panicked and instantly wanted us to sign the striker, who’d made it clear that if the right offer was to come in for him, he’d leave Villa. A lot of it was likely down to us still not quite being over losing Robin van Persie and feeling we were still on the look-out for someone new without actually realising we already had the right tools at the club.
The media began linking us repeatedly and for a while, it actually looked like a possibility.
Fortunately, the rumours petered out and Liverpool came in last summer with a whopping offer of £32.5m – an offer Villa couldn’t afford to refuse.
So far, Benteke has scored seven goals in 20 appearances for the Reds, which isn’t too shabby at all. Some of the goals, such as against Sunderland and Leicester, have been match deciders and therefore, it stands to reason that the 25-year-old has become a pretty valuable player for the Merseyside team.
However, against West Ham, Benteke chocked. As Bate points out, the big man had five shots and scored zero, in fact, he didn’t even get one on target, while his counterpart, Andy Carroll, had the same amount, got every single one on target and scored.
It’s this inconsistency that could have cost Arsenal if we’d bought him. Although Giroud has the odd game where he doesn’t score, he still contributes and we get goals from elsewhere. If we were relying on Benteke as our main goalscorer, sometimes we’d love him, other times we’d be left frustrated.
In addition, his injury proneness is something Arsenal could definitely do without. Giroud, despite liking to look injured, actually very rarely picks anything up. He’s a sturdy bloke. That’s what we need, a strong striker who isn’t going to continually be sidelined, only to have to repeatedly return and find his form all over again.
Not buying Benteke two years ago was just another example of why we don’t know what we’re talking about but Wenger does.