It’s been a very difficult season for Belgian striker Christian Benteke at Anfield. After bagging 52 goals in 157 games at Aston Villa, Benteke was tipped by Liverpool supporters to add firepower and a fear factor going forward in terms of being clinical.
I, personally, was skeptical about the potential Benteke transfer from the first minute. He may have had a lot of pressure from his critics, but if he demands a £32.5m price tag, he should be able to deal & strive to live up to his expectations.
Liverpool’s signings, as history divulges, can be red herrings to those who are tipped for success, especially the ones who come with larger price tags. For example, Andy Carroll’s transfer to Liverpool on deadline day in 2011 was for £35m, but he failed to be as prolific as his career at Newcastle suggested.
Benteke was undergoing he best part of his career at Aston Villa, and the speculation about an Anfield move perhaps came too soon. It was going to be a challenge for him to make the first team, with the likes of Divock Origi, Danny Ings, Daniel Sturrdige and Roberto Firmino fighting for the No.9 role.
Benteke got a start in the opening 1-0 victory against Stoke City last season, but was poor for long periods of the game, and showed lethargic movement in the box. He could have opened his scoring account in the 0-0 draw at the Emirates in August as well, but spurned glorious opportunities.
Brendan Rodgers showed remarkable patience with the Belgian, despite an indifferent start to life at Liverpool. It was clear that he ultimately struggled to make the cut as he couldn’t fit into our style of play or in the diamond philosophy that Rodgers adopted as Liverpool boss.
He was offered little service by the midfielders, seldom getting involved in the opposition box to create chances. at times, seeming disinterested as he was stood still as a statue, barely making a dent in opposition defences.
Then came Jurgen Klopp’s appointment in October. Liverpool had adopted a “gegenpressing” style of play, which involved pressing the opposition on the ball and getting the ball to the strikers, who made a run beyond opposition defences.
As I stated earlier in the article, Benteke simply didn’t show any penetration in movement, and his finishing was awful when he was given a bite of the cherry. He’d been executing clever runs beyond the backline, and created space for himself, which made him so successful at Aston Villa. Yet he couldn’t show any of that ability on the pitch at Liverpool. Why? This remains an enigma to us all.
Footballers often claim that the pressure for them is too much at the club, but if you take a player like Benteke, who demands a sizeable price tag to force a move, he should contrive to replicate and emulate what he did at Villa. Yes, there’s a difference between Liverpool & Aston Villa, and possibly the move was a step too far for him. He has only himself to blame.
He made headlines in March, for the wrong reasons, as his relationship with Klopp showed signs of strain. He missed a great opportunity to score against Southampton, and Klopp appeared very angry with him. This all but dented his confidence, and rarely featured in the first team after that.
And so, this has all culminated his career now, surely at Liverpool. He has failed to prove a point to his critics in a positive manner. Crystal Palace, a club undergoing transition still after they stayed up last season, may be the perfect destination for Benteke, as Palace’s philosophy is possessing a team with skillful, pacey & strong players.
Written by Ste Lindell (@SteLindellLFC)