Aston Villa would have demanded much more money for Christian Benteke if they could have predicted his form in the second half of last season, manager Tim Sherwood said ahead of the striker’s reunion with his former club at Liverpool on Saturday.
After the Belgian international scored only two league goals before Christmas, Villa believed a release clause of 32.5 five million pounds ($57.04 million) would deter suitors.
From March onwards, however, he was in spectacular scoring form, adding 11 more goals in the last 10 games.
“Last Christmas there might not have been too many takers but he showed the quality he’s got over the latter part of the season, which prompted Liverpool to spend the money,” said Sherwood, who joined the club in February.
“I expected them to pay that sort of money for Christian Benteke because of what he is, a top player.
“There was nothing the club could have done. We’d have liked to have kept him, we valued him at a lot more than that.
“The clause was there for a reason. And Liverpool matched it. But his value to the football club would have been a lot more than that.”
Both teams find themselves in the Premier League’s bottom eight ahead of Saturday’s game, although Sherwood told reporters that he suspected it would be a difficult start to the season for his team after losing three important players.
“Christian’s gone, Fabian (Delph)’s gone, Tom Cleverley’s gone. They’re all established Premier League players,” the manager added.
“We will now develop what we have. We’re a work in progress and we’re happy with the squad.
“The new players came here because we knew they were good players. Some hit the ground running right away, others take time.”
Sherwood expressed sympathy for Liverpool’s Brendan Rodgers, who bookmakers have made joint favourite with Newcastle’s Steve McClaren to be the first Premier League manager sacked this season.
“I have a lot of respect for Brendan,” the Villa boss said.
“He’s probably paying the price for overachieving a couple of years ago. He lost two of his best players — Luis Suarez in particular. He’s rebuilding.”