When we lost Christian Benteke at the end of the 2014-15, season we all knew it would take time to find his equal in ability and stature.
Aston Villa officials attempted to solve the problems posed by the sale of Benteke by signing Rudy Gestede but, in truth, he has never come close to the Belgian’s goal-scoring exploits or ability.
This summer, the scouts and a new manager went in search of goal-scorers and Ross McCormack and Jonathan Kodjia were signed for sizeable fees.
When we signed Jonathan Kodjia, many fans of other clubs ridiculed us for paying over the odds, at £15 million, for the Ivorian. Now, the price could well prove to be a snip.
I am not one to hype a player unduly but the fact of the matter is that we have found a striker who has now scored seven goals in thirteen appearances and who is also working hard even when things are not going his way.
The pain of losing a goal-scorer and all round good guy in Benteke was always going to take time to recover from. Thankfully, Kodjia is helping to heal that wound.
Being in the Championship is a totally different prospect to playing in the Premier League so it is unfair to say that Kodjia is better than Benteke or visa versa when we don’t know how each player would fare in a different league.
Nevertheless, in Kodjia, I believe we potentially have a thirty-goal a season striker in this division and a player who could quite easily adapt to the Premier League with a powerful style and big presence much like Benteke’s. Furthermore, he possesses a work rate we never quite witnessed from Christian Benteke.
With seven goals and one assist to his name so far this season, Kodjia is in the form we need him in, especially considering it won’t be too long until he goes to the Africa Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast.
Kodjia’s movement, whether he is played as a lone striker or on the wing, has been a contributing factor to the team’s change in fortunes. A major issue with previous Villa sides has been scoring goals. Naturally, it would be nice to score more than we currently are, but we can certainly say that goals are certainly becoming easier to find with the likes of Jonathan Kodjia in the side.
Kodjia is only human and could well suffer a goal drought now, although I can’t see that happening with such great supply and generally good form from the whole side.
He needs to score as many as possible. I am betting on him scoring twenty or more – and that’s with time off for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Rudy Gestede has generally struggled in an Aston Villa shirt, especially attempting to fill the gap left by Benteke, and perhaps he has not been utilised correctly. For Kodjia, it doesn’t seem to be an issue.
Just having him in the side is of huge benefit and his good character, which comes across from his use of social media, is also great to see as it shows a player happy to be at Villa Park and a player who is certainly enjoying his football.
Let’s make no bones about it: we cannot become over-reliant on Kodjia like we did with Christian Benteke. I do not believe that will be the case, with Steve Bruce all too aware of the gap that will be left when Kodjia goes off on international duty.
Kodjia is certainly banishing the memories of old that have perhaps haunted us when comparing strikers past and present in recent times. Indeed, I believe he will be bigger and better than Christian Benteke in years to come if he keeps working hard and continues in his rich vein of form.