It can be argued Christian Benteke’s situation at Crystal Palace is a relatively strange one for a striker.
The Belgium international has scored just one Premier League goal this season, but seems to have risen in prominence at Selhurst Park in recent times.
He has been picked to start by Roy Hodgson in each of the Eagles’ last seven league games, with his strike against Everton in the third of those bringing that solitary goal – for which he was helped massively by poor goalkeeping from Jordan Pickford.
FFC writers have given their verdicts on whether the 29-year-old needs to add goals to his game in order to become a truly effective striker for Palace.
“Benteke certainly has his uses for Crystal Palace. A return of 5.2 aerial duels won per game show he is a very good outlet up top and he can cause problems for defenders that allow teammates such as Jordan Ayew and Wilfried Zaha to exploit the opposition.
“He has also managed a respectable 0.9 key passes per game, but for every positive there are more negatives to his game, and if the Eagles really want to progress then they need to bring in a natural goalscorer.
“A 52% pass accuracy is simply unacceptable for a Premier League footballer and that’s before one considers his goalscoring record, having managed just 20 goals in 103 league appearances for the club.
“With that understanding, it is time to move on in regard to the Belgian and time instead for Steve Parish to back Roy Hogdson in order to allow him to bring in a player of proven quality.”
“Given Benteke is earning a whopping £120k-per-week at Crystal Palace, there’s absolutely no doubt he needs to add goals to his game.
“The Belgian has managed to score just five Premier League goals in his last 67 appearances, which is an abysmal return for the club’s third-highest earner.
“Though he offers both a focal point at the spearhead of the attack and intricate link-up play with some of Palace’s more dynamic players, Steve Parish should look to offload him in the summer.
“His demise has been sudden and perplexing but he’s simply out of time to prove he can resurrect the type of form that once made him a £32.5m signing for Liverpool.”
“We’re past the point of discussing whether or not Benteke needs to add goals to his game now – it just doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.
“However, that isn’t a bad thing. It has only been a negative when the Belgian has had that thought lodged firmly in his mind, such as when he nabbed the ball from Luka Milivojevic in desperation after a penalty was awarded against Bournemouth, only to miss from 12 yards.
“In recent weeks, the former Aston Villa man’s game has looked much better when he has simply stuck to what he’s good at – bringing others into play and being a nuisance, rather than trying to force the ball into the net. Benteke delivered a delicious assist for Ayew against Brighton & Hove Albion after a strong run, and was also instrumental in the Ghanaian grabbing another winner the following week against Watford with another surging burst from deep.
“Trying to score without regard for anything else is what has made the striker a laughing stock in recent years – he is better when he forgets about being named on the scoresheet.”
“When Benteke’s teammates are scoring to help pick up points, then it is completely fine that he isn’t doing so – the problem is when goals dry up for the other attackers. Zaha is another example of a key Palace man who has found goals hard to come by, having scored just three times in the league this term.
“Benteke doesn’t have to start making goalscoring his primary function if that doesn’t suit his game, but he does need to chip in more regularly than he has.
“Only Newcastle United and Norwich City have scored fewer Premier League goals than Palace this season – it’s not hard to see why when looking at the contributions of Benteke and Zaha in this regard. Palace will not be able to progress as a club until this issue is addressed”