Christian Benteke might be the most important player in the English Premiership.
The forward's strengths (especially physically) by far outweigh any weaknesses: the deadline-day signing from Genk is fast, accurate, remarkably powerful and has an incredible happy knack of finding space in the box.
Any questions as to Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert starting “his man” over the similarly-named Darren Bent have been made completely redundant. Benteke has goaled 13 times this term and assisted four more scores, making him responsible for over half of Villa’s goals during 2012-13 – 54.8% to be precise.
While numbers usually tell only half the tale, this figure is nonetheless impressive: of all players with more than ten goals this term, he ranks alongside the likes of Celta Vigo’s Iago Aspas (59.25%), Messi (59.1%), Zlatan (56.6%), Atalanta’s Erik Lamela (53.3%) as players who contribute to over 50% of their club’s goals.
However important as his goals have been, his physical and implied presence has had more of an impact in this year’s relegation struggle. In Villa’s recent wins against fellow battlers QPR and Reading, he has not only scored goals but routinely drawn multiple defenders, thereby allowing striking partners Gaby Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann the freedom they need to score.
Quite simply, he has been the difference between Villa’s recent wins against their struggling brethren. None of Reading, Wigan Athletic or QPR have a player who demands the same respect from defenders and tacticians alike. And with the amount of money staked upon Premiership survival, this probably makes him the most irreplaceable man in the league.