“He’s a player we admire but the problem is that he is on huge wages that no club can afford.”
The words of David Sullivan on the prospect of signing Christian Benteke from Liverpool seem to suggest that a deal is a no-go. After all, the Reds striker is on £120,000-per-week and the Merseyside club are sure to be keen to recoup a big chunk of the £32.5m they paid Aston Villa for him less than a year ago.
Or is it just posturing from the Hammers chief? He’s no fool when it comes to business dealings, so the Irons big-shot will know that Liverpool are in a position that they may have to supplement Benteke’s wages to get him off their books, or take a smaller fee, thus allowing the London side to pay his salary.
Taking money out of the equation, Benteke looks like an ideal signing for West Ham. Although the soon to be Olympic Stadium side’s fans are likely to question taking a cast-off from a team below them in the Premier League table, there are many reasons that the 25-year-old could be a wise addition for the claret and blue outfit… and here are FIVE.
2012/13 – 19
2013/14 – 10
2014/15 – 13
2015/16 – 7
Say what you like about Benteke, but he’s a proven goalscorer in the Premier League. The above figures are his return over the course of the past three seasons (and the bulk of the current campaign), and when his injury issues of 2013/14 and 2014/15 are taken into account, the Belgian is very much a ‘one in two’ centre-forward – the tally that separates average strikers from not so average strikers.
With West Ham the lowest scorers in the Premier League’s top five (47) and their own leader board topped by attacking midfielder Dimitri Payet (eight), a guaranteed source of goals up front could be enough to push the Hammers to the next level.
According to reports, West Ham have up to £40m to spend on a striker. That’s some wedge of cash considering the £15m paid for Andy Carroll in 2014 remains the Irons’ record outlay on a single signing. The increasing levels of TV Revenue in the Premier League and the looming move to the Olympic Stadium will serve to push the London club up a tier in terms of financial muscle, allowing them, despite David Sullivan’s protestations about Benteke’s wages, to pay the sort of sums needed to lure a new bracket of players to the East End.
It seems that Liverpool are ready to abandon the Benteke experiment. One would have thought after the failed spells of Carroll and Mario Balotelli that the Reds would have realised that physicality over movement and technique was not the way forward, but it seems to have needed the £32.5m paid for their Belgian to really drive the point home. It’s become increasingly clear that Jurgen Klopp favours fluidity and pace in the final third, and even though Benteke remains their second highest league scorer with seven in the league, the fact he’s made more appearances as a substitute than a starter under the German tactician tells the full story.
Liverpool need cash to spend on summer additions, and selling their big money Brendan Rodgers buy could provide a timely injection of funds.
West Ham are far from being the ‘hoofball’ unit of the Sam Allardyce reign, but there’s no denying that they’re more direct than Liverpool and make greater use of attacking down the flanks. Whereas the Reds look to build around the edge of the box and rely on neat short passes in the final third – often enforced by deep opposition backlines – the Hammers look to get the ball into the box with regularity and are not afraid to go from back to front when needed. This is far more in tune with Benteke’s skillset, with the ex-Aston Villa man having looked out of his depth when asked to press from the front and get on the same wavelength as Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino in the final third.
At West Ham, the robust centre-forward would thrive from the wide delivery offered by Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio, while Payet’s wicked free-kicks look tailor-made for the 25-year-old.
Although all the whispers through the season have surrounded Benteke’s desire to battle for his place at Liverpool and prove he is of sufficient quality to play for one of England’s elite names, he may well find himself forced out of the door. Klopp doesn’t seem the sort of manager to keep a player in his plans just on the basis of value and salary, so the Belgian’s likely be told that he’s fourth (maybe fifth) choice heading into 2016/17 behind Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi, Firmino and Danny Ings – and that’s before potential signings are taken into account.
As a result a move may well appeal to Benteke, who is at risk of sliding out of the Belgium set-up and has seen his reputation take a hit since making what many thought would be a profitable move to Anfield.