So Christian Benteke returns to Bodymoor Heath today, rejoining the rest of the Aston Villa squad for pre-season training. Of course, the other players have had nearly two weeks of training already, traveling to Germany and bonding together over a series of 1-1 draws. Now that Benteke has handed in his transfer request, how will the rest of the squad respond?
Apparently, according to the Birmingham Mail, Yacouba Sylla will be close by to help the Villa "star" re-endear himself to his teammates. It's hard to imagine he'll be loved for his insistence on a transfer after a single successful season. The other players must be at least a bit peeved at Benteke's slightly inflated self-image. But apparently he and Sylla have become quite close, having that whole French-speaking thing in common, so the midfielder will be there to hold his hand and include him in inside jokes.
But it's not his fellow teammates that Benteke should be worried about. Sure, they have to be willing to feed him the ball for Benteke to look good and secure that transfer, but they're professionals, and the job will get done. What the Belgian should be concerned about is the attitude of the fans. Not many of the Villa faithful are too thrilled with Benteke's attitude, and they're certain to show it when he's on the pitch. That's not an atmosphere too many players want to face, and when you're still young, it can harm performances when your own fans turn against you.
So either Benteke needs to cross his fingers that Spurs really are interested, and they come for him quickly, or he needs to put his head down, stay quiet, and let his performances speak for themselves. It won't be easy for Villa supporters to forgive and forget, but if Benteke stays and scores, this mess can be overlooked.