Christian Benteke has been named on several lists of the worst Premier League signings in 2015/16. The Belgian arrived at Liverpool under the reign of Brendan Rodgers and has now become a rather unwilling disciple of Jurgen Klopp. The 25-year-old ex-Aston Villa centre-forward is being spoken of as if he has had an absolute ‘Fernando Torres of a season’.
The price-tag is clouding the judgement of pundits and fans alike. Benteke arrived at Liverpool for a huge amount of money last summer and he has ended up in a team that does not remotely suit his own languid style of play. Capable of the extraordinary and the depressingly ordinary, Benteke has never been prolific for long periods. Perhaps that wonder strike at Old Trafford earlier this season pushed people’s hopes up too quickly.
Short periods of wonderful form at Aston Villa saw Benteke catch the eye. Powerful displays of stunning goals and exceptional hold-up play made him a dream signing for the top sides, or so we were told. Being in and out of the Liverpool XI, Benteke has not managed to have the same purple patches that he did in the claret and blue of Villa.
Yet, despite a change in style, being out of favour and consistent squad rotation, Benteke is producing at around the safe efficiency he was doing at Villa.
Benteke scored 0.45 non-penalty goals per 90 in the PL last season. Guess how many this time around? 0.45 again. What an epic flop.
— Bobby (@BobbyGardiner) May 9, 2016
Bare in mind, this was before he scored another goal at Anfield with his last minute equaliser against Chelsea. His productivity is no worse than it was last season. You can argue that he is now in a team with more creative spark and should, therefore, be producing more. However, that is debatable in the current state of this Liverpool team. Benteke hasn’t been failing as many would like to tell you and it is, in fact, a stylistic factor that is bringing his Liverpool future in to doubt.
Klopp’s pressing game is more suited to Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge than Benteke. The Belgian’s work-rate isn’t always as tireless as some may expect from a relatively young forward and he doesn’t have the pace to attack the space behind the defence in the same way as some of his team-mates.
Inconsistent he may be – sometimes even inactive – but Benteke has not been a flop.
If Klopp does decide to move Benteke on this summer, there will be surely be plenty of clubs across Europe desperate to snap him up. Liverpool would be foolish to let him go, mind, particularly considering the injury troubles that have plagued the last couple of years for Sturridge. The game isn’t all about goals, but someone who is as natural a finisher as Benteke cannot be over-valued. Liverpool may leave themselves short of attacking alternatives if they were to let Benteke slip through their fingers.
The Belgian offers something different to the rest of the squad and, as he proved against Chelsea, that can be a wonderful asset for Klopp. Benteke himself is unlikely to be happy with playing a ‘Plan B’, unfortunately for Klopp.
A victim of a club changing their approach, yes. A flop? Not even close to it, considering the dire performances that many No.9s have provided across the Premier League over the past few years.