Tottenham Hotspur fans must have been shaking their heads in dismay at the conclusion of both the summer and January transfer windows. The squad looks fresh, youthful and packed with quality. Apart from up front. So it is strange that despite picking up considerable transfer fees for both Rafael van der Vaart and Luka Modric, Spurs have not made any additions to their forward ranks.
The matter will surely not go unaddressed much longer and in keeping with that, Aston Villa's Christian Benteke must be their highest transfer priority.
Benteke, in many ways, is the perfect centre-forward to compliment Tottenham’s style of play under Andre Villas-Boas. Since the arrival of the Portuguese, Spurs have been exhibiting a high-octane, incisive brand of football. They can keep the ball well, but it is on the counterattack that this Spurs side come into their own.
In keeping with this, and somewhat surprisingly for some, Tottenham’s play is enhanced greatly by a target man. Jermain Defoe is an excellent centre-forward; a fantastic poacher who terrorizes defenders in behind. But going forward, Spurs need to be catering to the counterattacking strengths of Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon.
This is where a physical forward who holds up the ball can be a huge asset.
There is a common misconception amongst many supporters that counterattacking is entirely about pace. If Tottenham have Defoe, Lennon and Bale all in the side, they can all burst forward so quickly that the gap between the midfield and the forward line can be enormous.
At the moment, Spurs don’t really have a classic No.10 to exploit these gaps with decisive passing and smart movement. So what they need is a centre-forward who can take the ball with his back to goal, make it stick and allow players like Bale and Lennon run beyond him.
Since the turn of the year, this is how Spurs have tried to play. Emmanuel Adebayor has taken up the slot at the very point of the attack, and while the Togo international has suffered from poor finishing and a patchy all-round game, his teammates have excelled around him—It’s because he gives them an outlet on the break.
This is why Benteke would be the perfect man to lead the line for Spurs. In terms of his all-round centre-forward qualities, he is a massive upgrade on any player Tottenham currently have on their books.
At the moment, there is no better target man in the Premier League. Down the years we have seen players referred to as target men who are basically average centre-forwards with somewhat physical traits. Kevin Davies and Andy Carroll both stand out. But Benteke does not fall into this category, he is a proper player and top-quality centre-forward.
He has been in England for little over seven months and his physical approach to the game has enabled him to adapt superbly to the cutthroat nature of English football. But it is not just his somatotype that makes him a threat. He has a plethora of attacking weapons at his disposal.
As the weeks tick by, he seems to be continually showcasing others string to his bow. The goal he scored to seal Villa’s 3-1 at Stoke showed skill, agility, pace and composure. When combined with the physicality he brings to the game, he represents a pretty fearsome prospect.
This is compounded further when you consider that Benteke is only 22 years old. With that he ticks all the categories for Andre Villas-Boas and his “new” Tottenham. He is young, hungry and has seemingly unchartered potential.
Just to cap it all off, Benteke has demonstrated he knows where the back of the net is. He stands on 19 goals for the season at the time of writing.
So we have established Benteke is the real deal, but stylistically, could he fit into this Tottenham side?
Well, in many ways, he plays a similar role at Villa to the one he would potentially play at White Hart Lane. With Andreas Weimann and Gabriel Agbonlahor operating either side of Benteke, Villa like to attack with width and pace. Just like Spurs.
They are a long way off the North Londoners in terms of quality, but you can certainly draw some comparisons between both teams attacking styles.
In his current role, Benteke has been a perfect foil for both Agbonlahor and Weimann, and they for him. With this is in mind, the Belgian front man would have no problems slotting into the Tottenham set-up.
If Villa fail to stave off relegation, then their Belgian superstar will be easy pickings for the top sides. But if they can steer clear of the Premier League trap door, Spurs will have a fight on their hands if they want to wrestle him away from the Villains.
Lambert is looking to build a young, exuberant team at Villa, and you get the impression Benteke is central to that. Talks have reportedly started about a new contract that could see him double his wages. It's apparent they won’t let him go easy.
Having signed for £7 million last summer, you expect Spurs would need to at least double that amount if they are going to seriously test Villa’s resolve.
What do you think? Is Benteke a good fit for Spurs? Let me know in the comments section or on Twitter @MattJFootball
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