According to reports from London Evening Standard, Crystal Palace are open to cashing in on Christian Benteke this summer following a goal-shy campaign from the Belgian striker which has cost him a place in Roberto Martinez’s World Cup squad.
The south Londoners want to recoup some of their original investment in Benteke, who was signed from Liverpool two summers ago, and it’s claimed that the 27-year-old could consequently make a ‘lucrative’ move to the Chinese Super League – who have often shown a willingness to pay over the odds to bring well-known Premier League talents to their top flight.
So, are Palace right to try and move on their main centre-forward or could there be unforeseen ramifications? Football FanCast take a look at the potential consequences of Palace cashing in on Benteke this summer…
The Eagles aren’t exactly in desperate need of extra cash but getting a big fee for Benteke will ease some of the pressure to sell should they receive massive offers for Wilfried Zaha this summer as expected.
The Ivorian’s influence on Crystal Palace’s results is impossible to exaggerate; the South Londoners didn’t pick up a single point in the Premier League last season during the ten games their flying winger missed through injury; so keeping him at the club is far more important than Benteke.
The Guardian recently reported that Palace intend to offer their talismanic attacker a new deal and any funds generated from the sale of Benteke could be crucial in getting that deal over the line.
After all, Zaha is paid around £110k per week already and his agent will likely want a handsome signing on bonus – that extra money needs to come from somewhere and the Belgium international offers an added stream of cash at a crucial time.
Roy Hodgson did a phenomenal job last season considering the position Palace were in when he took over from Frank de Boer, but the former England gaffer is still effectively working with players who were already at the club before he arrived.
The club will give him some form of transfer budget this summer regardless, but cashing in on Benteke should allow him the means to truly make his mark on this team from a tactical perspective – and perhaps even bring it a bit closer to the technical, entertaining style Steve Parish envisaged when he appointed the Dutchman.
Indeed, this Palace squad is clearly geared towards attacking in a very direct way and Hodgson’s often seen as a bit of a dinosaur. But in truth, that’s largely fallacy; Hodgson’s famous Fulham side was based as much around technical talent in midfield – players like Danny Murphy, Jimmy Bullard and Clint Dempsey – as it was pace and power.
That’s not to suggest the Palace gaffer comes from the same school of thought as de Boer, but he’s capable of reinvesting the money wisely enough to take the Eagles a few steps closer to it.
There’s little disputing how woeful Benteke’s form was last season, especially in goalscoring terms. But it shouldn’t be forgotten how consistent the Belgium international’s record has been elsewhere in the Premier League, averaging 0.37 goals per match during his time in the English top flight, just as it shouldn’t be forgotten how rare a commodity proven Premier League goalscorers really are.
In fact, last term was very much a rare blip on Benteke’s CV; all of his other Premier League campaigns have produced at least nine goals – the lowest return coming when he spent a season on the bench at Liverpool.
Plenty of Eagles fans will be glad to see the back of Benteke regardless of his modest goal tally last season – his lack of effort and work-rate has been a recurring source of frustration at Selhurst Park.
But sometimes the devil you know is far better than the one you don’t, and with Alexander Sorloth and the injured Connor Wickham the only other senior strikers on the club’s books, Palace will find themselves in something of a precarious position should Benteke leave.
Some of the funds generated by selling Benteke will obviously go into sourcing a replacement, but the chances are that Palace will have to take a punt on someone without such a proven scoring record in the Premier League. For any club outside the top six, that inevitably represents a huge gamble that could go a long way to defining their season.
So, Palace fans, should your club cash in on Benteke? Let us know by voting below…