Do you remember when Christian Benteke submitted his transfer request in early July? I certainly do. It was one of the few times in my life that I have drank out of rage. As soon as it happened, rumours that had been floating on the periphery of the transfer market exploded. Tottenham quickly became the leader in the competition to secure the Belgian's services, but other teams were interested as well. We heard connections to Fulham, Chelsea, and Arsenal. At the time, all of these stories made sense: Benteke was one of the best players available on the market and these teams had the need for a prolific striker. One who, after two matches, would already be on an unsustainable 57-goal pace.
But then, when it was apparent that no bid was forthcoming, he withdrew his request and signed a new contract with Aston Villa. The move had obviously been a mistake, and was likely the result of some poor advising from his agent. To make amends, Benteke reaffirmed his interest in playing with the club, put his head down, and has generally performed so well in the preseason and first two matches that most Villa fans have forgiven him. End of story, right?
Well, if you looked through the morning links today, you'd know it wasn't. I'm not going to bother linking to any more of the stories, but a cursory Google or NewsNow search will reveal a large number of stories linking Benteke to Arsenal or Chelsea still. This is the worst sort of reporting. Any half-hearted football fan knows that both the Gunners and Blues could stand improve their attack, and that both clubs have an abundance of funds to spare. So yes, you could speculate: given (virtually) unlimited funds and a need for a striker, Chelsea/Arsenal are interested in (insert any striker here). Could Arsenal offer £75 million for Benteke and lure him away? I guess. But it's not going to happen.
One of the biggest problems facing the football media is that this sort of reporting flies. No one seems to call these stories out for the complete rubbish that they are. Yes, Benteke was interested in leaving. Yes, he will likely leave next summer or the summer after. But no, he's not leaving right now. He's just signed a new contract, and is already thriving even more so than he did last year. Aston Villa do not look to be relegation-battle bound and they also look to be an offensive machine. Benteke stands to vastly improve his valuation this year, and secure himself a spot with the Belgian national side for the 2014 World Cup. At this point he'd be stupid to move. Why give up guaranteed time on a team that will be feeding you goals?
So no, just because some clubs need a striker - and Benteke is one of those! - doesn't mean that they will be trying to lure Christian Benteke from Aston Villa. The speculative reporting that keeps trying to insist otherwise is irresponsible and shoddy. But it, like these rumours, likely isn't going away any time soon. Just remember: the easiest way to deal with both is to ignore them.