Since his huge £32.5m move to Liverpool in the summer of 2015, which saw him become the club’s second most expensive transfer of all time, Christian Benteke has, for want of a better word, struggled at Anfield.
Brendan Rodgers had signed Benteke – who had also attracted interest from a host of other clubs at the time – hoping to make the former Genk man his marque addition.
Things have not quite turned out as expected, however, with the 25 year old unfortunately becoming the fourth choice striker at Anfield since the arrival of Jurgen Klopp, falling behind the preferred Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino and, more recently, fellow Belgium international Divock Origi.
Big things were expected from the colossal 6ft. 3″ forward following his impressive spell at newly relegated Aston Villa, in which he scored 42 times in only 89 appearances for the club.
In what has been an injury plagued season, the target man has ‘failed’ to deliver at his new club and has only started 12 Premier League games all season. Fans have even dubbed the Belgian the ‘new Andy Carroll’ – with there being alarming similarities between the signing of the Englishman for another huge fee back in 2011, and subsequently his misfiring Anfield career.
Benteke’s frustration is clear. The forward has been more and more vocal about his disappointment at his lack of playing time, and a summer departure looks imminent as Klopp will look to put his own stamp on his evolving Liverpool side.
The DR Congo born forward, however, still has plenty to offer, and potentially boasts plenty of goal full years ahead of him at only 25.
Here are FIVE reasons why Benteke should cut his losses and move on this summer …
While it may be easy to join the bandwagon and say Benteke has not produced the same form at Anfield as he did at his previous clubs – most notably Aston Villa – the facts tell a different story.
The Belgian has scored eight league goals this term and nine in all competitions. So? you may ask. Understandably this is not a great goal return for a starting striker, however the return comes from only 18 starts in all competitions all season, meaning, in theory, the striker will grab a goal once every other game.
His total lies only three behind Philippe Coutinho’s 12 all season; two behind Daniel Sturridge who has notched 11 times; and one behind both Roberto Firmino and Divock Origi, despite the Belgian having featured substantially less than his counterparts.
Benteke’s goals alone this season have earnt Liverpool a total of 13 points in the Premier League, with the Belgian having notched four winners against Bournemouth, Leicester, Sunderland and Crystal Palace, as well as salvaging a draw at home to Southampton back in October.
Take 13 points away from Liverpool this season and they sit plump in 13th place, only one point ahead of both West Brom and Bournemouth.
His goal against Bordeaux in the Europa League also saw Liverpool safely past a the resilient French side in the early stages of the tournament. Without his input, Liverpool would certainly not be staring down at a possible final in Basel on May 18th.
Look at both of Jurgen Klopp’s previous clubs, and at neither did he operate with a big target man. This is particularly true of his time at Borussia Dortmund, where the forwards during his reign at the club were suited more to the high pressing and passing modus operandi he drilled into his players at the Westfalenstadion.
Robert Lewandowski, Marco Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are prime examples of this, where their pace and slight footwork allow for high pressing and devastating counters.
Benteke is a different style of player. Strong in the air, fantastic at holding the ball up and handful in the box, not often will you see the Belgian run 70 yards with the ball at his feet, nor hound defenders in front of their own box. The former Standard Liege man will be lucky to find playing time under Klopp.
Regardless of this season’s successes and failures, Christian Benteke has proven he can score goals.
On loan at Kortrijk he notched 14 in 34 appearances at only 19 years old, helping the club to their best ever Pro League finish. At Genk, he bagged 19 during the 2011-2012 season helping them qualify for the Europa League. And of course, at Villa, Benteke was phenomenal, scoring 42 times in 89 games for the The Claret and Blue Army.
Provided with the right service, the big Belgian will certainly score goals. His main threat comes in the air, but he is certainly no slouch with the ball at his feet. Oh, and he has this in his locker ….
A host of Premier League and European clubs will be screaming for Benteke’s signature this summer if the striker is indeed to leave Anfield after only one season at the club.
Always the professional, the forward has stated his desire to fight for his place at the club, however if an offer of first team football comes in, he should jump at the chance.
It is likely the fee would be significantly lower than the £32.5 million Liverpool paid for him, so whoever is lucky enough the secure his signature will probably be getting one of the bargains of the summer.