Not only does Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke face the heartbreak of missing the World Cup with a ruptured Achilles tendon, the injury is so serious he may not make a comeback, according to a warning from a leading orthopaedic surgeon in London. The Belgian international broke down during a club training session last week, which not only ruled him out of the tournament, but club doctors said it would sideline him from six to eight months. Other specialists have said Benteke will be lucky to return ahead of the grueling Christmas period. However, Simon Moyes, a consultant orthopedic surgeon at The Wellington Hospital in London, said there is no guarantee the player would ever fully recover.
“With an injury like that, there is no guarantee he will be back,” Moyes told Guardian Liberty Voice. “Yes, these players are athletes and are much stronger than the average man when it comes to recovery, but the Achilles tendon is only around 80% as strong after it has been repaired.” Moyes added that although club doctors had predicted a return in eight months (initially six), Benteke could be looking at 12 months out.
Moyes said that if Benteke were to make a full recovery, he would run the risk of not being as good as he once was. “It’s not always the same when a player comes back from a serious setback,” Moyes added. “They are often slightly slower and if there is a mental block, they may not be prepared to go in for certain challenges.” The news of Benteke’s injury may have come at a bad time for his club as Villa were ready to start entertaining bids for the sought after striker. Tottenham Hotspur have been tracking the player for some time and were expected to make a big offer for him in the summer. His country, Belgium, must now go to the World Cup without one of the team’s key strikers. However, the fact a surgeon has claimed Benteke may not fully recover from the injury will be bigger cause for concern.
It is notoriously difficult to make a full recovery from a ruptured or torn Achilles tendon. Former England captain David Beckham missed the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Ironically, the injury came when he was on loan from LA Galaxy to AC Milan in a bid to maintain a higher level of fitness for the tournament. When he returned to full fitness, Beckham only managed another two-and-a-half years before hanging up his boots at Paris Saint-Germain.
Ex-Liverpool and England winger John Barnes also suffered the injury and when he came back, it was clear he had lost a yard of pace. Former Manchester United and England midfielder suffered the same injury on international duty and had to finish his career playing soccer in the lower leagues.
Benteke had a relatively low-key season by his standards, but it picked up in recent weeks. He was almost certainly going to be one of the first names on the plane to Brazil, but now he will be left behind to contemplate what might have been as he works with surgeons and trainers to regain fitness. If he does make a full recovery, Benteke will be lucky to play again in 2014.
By Robert Shepherd