Aston Villa's summer transfer window had started so well, securing the signatures of six players before preseason training even started.
Jores Okore, Antonio Luna, Nicklas Helenius, Aleksandar Tonev, Leandro Bacuna and Jed Steer joined up, adding quantity and quality to a young, hungry squad.
With the development of Matthew Lowton, Ashley Westwood and Nathan Baker et al, Villa fans were starting to believe they had a squad primed for a top-half assault on the English Premier League.
And then it happened.
On July 9, the BBC confirmed Christian Benteke, Villa's star, 19-goal striker from the 2012-13 season, had handed in a transfer request.
In truth, interest from clubs placed higher in the league had been expected: The Guardian predicted a summer move from Tottenham and Andre Villas-Boas would come back in December 2012, with the Portuguese boss singing his praises.
The Belgian has—perhaps fittingly—gone from hero to villain, from hat-trick hero in Villa's crucial match against Sunderland last season to Villa Park's most-hated.
"Ooooh Christian Benteke!" would frequently ring around stadiums last season, but the first word in that chant has now been replaced by a less savoury option.
But as sympathy from other fanbases pours in for the Villa support, one thing should be made absolutely clear: Aston Villa, as a club, simply cannot lose from this situation.
Benteke would be forced to stay, and Villa run no risk because Benteke is just one quarter of the way into a four-year deal signed last August.
Motivation? No problem; If you hadn't heard, there's a World Cup next year and the striker is desperate to pip Romelu Lukaku to a starting spot in Marc Wilmots' squad.
There's absolutely no chance the Belgian will sit around sulking, and Villa can enjoy another year of Benteke's exploits in front of goal, boosting their chances of significantly improving on last season's finish.
The Barry precedent, along with the gathering of insane fees for James Milner (£26 million plus Stephen Ireland), Ashley Young (£16 million) and Stewart Downing (£20 million), proves Villa are stubborn in the market and not afraid of upsetting a few people to get the appropriate value for their assets.
If they do sell, the club will recoup a massive fee. The Guardian suggest he joined Villa in a £7 million deal and, if he goes, he'll cost a minimum of £23 million.
That's an incredible profit margin, and who in their right mind would bet against Paul Lambert going out and finding the very next Christian Benteke? His success in the transfer market is the envy of many chairmen, and fans in B6 have faith in the Scot to bring in a suitable replacement.
Villa may lose a soon-to-be world-class striker, but they'll get a tidy sum of money dumped in their bank account in the process. Should he stay, the looming World Cup ensures Benteke will play at optimum level for another 12 months, allowing the club to reap the benefits of playing hardball.
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