Lambert: Helenius can emulate Benteke
Paul Lambert is convinced Nicklas Helenius can follow in the footsteps of Christian Benteke and make a Premier League impact with Aston Villa.
Helenius has completed his £2 million move to Villa Park from Danish club Aalborg BK, signing a three-year contract, to become Lambert's fourth signing of the season.
Less than a year ago, Villa manager Lambert signed the unheralded Benteke from Belgian club Genk for £6m and the Belgian international has established himself as one of the most wanted strikers in European football.
Lambert has backed his judgement with another unknown European, but is confident that 22-year-old Helenius, recognised by UEFA as Danish Superliga player of the season in 2012-13, can prove another shrewd signing and make a huge impression in English football.
"Nicklas is a young lad but also a full international with a good goalscoring record in Denmark and he’ll prove himself in the Premier League," Lambert said.
"The opportunity will be there for him, as it will be for the rest of the lads and he has all the attributes to go and take it.
"He wants to go and make a name and a career for himself and he’s made a good start at Aalborg. It’s a case of continuing to work hard and building on that and I believe he can.
"He’s a good player and the potential is there for him to grow into the team and grow with the team. He’ll definitely be able to give the team a hand."
Helenius scored 16 goals in 33 league appearances last season and for the past two seasons finished runner-up in the Superliga’s Golden Boot award.
He has been on Villa's radar for several months and he is determined to prove himself at the highest level, after following fellow Danish international Jores Okore to Villa Park.
"This is a big opportunity for me. It is a big dream to play in the Premier League with a club with the history of Aston Villa and I’m very excited,” Helenius said.
"I know we have a young team and I know we came through a test last season and got better as a team over the course of the campaign. I watched the game against Liverpool at Anfield and was very impressed by the way the team played.
"In Gabby Agbonlahor and Andi Weimann, for example, we have good players who have great speed and energy and a real love for playing for Villa. You can see this and you can also see the strength and quality of Christian Benteke.
"It is really exciting to be a part of this and I’m looking forward so much to pulling on the shirt and getting to know my new team-mates.
"I’ve watched Premier League football since I was eight years old. I was so inspired that I used to go by myself to an empty ground in my home town of Godthaab - a town of 900 people - and just kick the ball around, practise the skills and shoot. That was my whole life growing up.
"I thought that maybe when I was 28 or something I might eventually be able to move to the Premier League having made my mark in Danish football, but now I have my chance and I think this is the right club for me. I want to show the fans that I’m hungry for this and that I’m very proud to be a Villa player."