Christian Benteke raring to go for Villa
Christian Benteke has no fears of second-season syndrome and is ready to bury the summer uncertainty over his Aston Villa future with another powerful contribution for Paul Lambert's side.
Benteke has been welcomed back into the fold at Villa after signing a new contract and tearing up a transfer request, just 12 months after his £7 million move from Belgian club Genk.
The Belgium international went from a relative unknown to having a £30 million price tag placed on him by Villa as a host of top sides including Arsenal, Tottenham, Inter Milan and Fiorentina tried to lure him away from Villa Park during the close-season.
His 19-goals played a huge part in Villa avoiding relegation in Lambert's first season and he knows he will be a marked man this season as he prepares to get his season underway with a tough trip to face Arsenal.
The pressure will be on Benteke and fellow forwards Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann to recreate the understanding which delivered 35 goals last season and Benteke is ready to rise to the challenge.
“We know it will be difficult for us this season because the defenders will be aware of us,” Benteke said. “They will be waiting for us but we will be ready. We’ll fight for each other like we did last season. We’re all excited about this season.
“The biggest strength for us as a three in my opinion is that we are all different players with different qualities. Andi and Gabby work very hard. Gabby prefers to go to the space behind the defender for example. This gives us power.
“I think to play with Andi and Gabby is great. I love playing with them. You saw that last season. We had good times together. I have a good rapport with them, a good relationship. They’ve helped me a lot. When I came they took me under their wing. They’re good people. It’s great to play with them up front.”