Apparently, after handing in his transfer request, Christian Benteke is loathe to face his Aston Villa teammates again. The Belgian striker is apparently desperate for a deal to be finished that would send him to Tottenham Hotspur by Thursday. Benteke was left out of Aston Villa's preseason tour of Germany, but has been told that if a transfer has not happened, he will be required to report to Bodymoor Heath for training this Thursday. Not doing so would risk a fine and the loss of his £20,000 per week salary.
You can understand why Benteke wouldn't want to return to Villa. Spurs have been reported to be willing to more than triple Benteke's salary, and at this point things would likely be very awkward between him and his teammates. The entire situation strikes me as if Benteke, his agent, and Tottenham all underestimated Aston Villa's desire to hold out for their valuation of the player. The awkward timing of the transfer request seems to imply that Benteke thought he had things sewn up with Spurs, but we know the London club has been offering too little for Paul Lambert and Randy Lerner's tastes. The gambit of making his desire to leave Birmingham known hasn't succeeded in knocking down his price.
But as we've said, Villa have no reason to let Benteke go right now, and it doesn't seem as if the Belgian has much bargaining power. He could, of course, go on strike as he did to force a transfer from Genk to Villa, but given the fact that he'll need regular playing time to force his way into the Belgian World Cup squad, this seems unlikely. If Villa can't get their money, they'd likely be wise to hold out and try to force Benteke's hand. He might be unhappy, but if he wants to keep his value up - in the eyes of other squads and in the eyes of the Belgian FA - he would be wise to play at his highest level.
At this point, I think I'd rather see Aston Villa get what they want for him, but I totally understand why they're unwilling to budge on price. At the same time, though, I can see Benteke's side of the argument: he's got the chance to triple his salary and make an impact at a team that has a realistic expectation of challenging for Champions League play. Hard to blame him for that.
What a terrible, awkward mess this has turned out to be.