Christian Benteke’s days at Anfield have seemed numbered ever since Jurgen Klopp arrived on Merseyside to take the reins from Brendan Rodgers. The £32.5 million signing from Aston Villa was targeted by the former Liverpool boss in a bid to being goals back to the side and revive the club’s fortunes after suffering massively from Luis Suarez’s exit to Barcelona.
Following the Nothern Irishman’s dismissal at Anfield, the tactical switch brought about by Klopp has been unsuited to Benteke’s style of play. So often thriving in an Aston Villa team built to play around him, he has been relegated to the bench under the German head coach and rarley given starting opportunities. Even on the occasions where he has been fortunate enough to make the starting eleven, he has cut a forlorn figure; that of a player devoid of confidence.
With compatriot Divock Origi and the recently returned Danny Ings viewed as brighter prospects ahead of Benteke in the pecking order at Liverpool, Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino taking up the first-choice striker spots and barely seeing a sniff of action himself in pre-season as well as failing to make the bench for Liverpool’s opening weekend trip to Arsenal, 25-year-old Benteke must seek out an exit in order to rejuvenate his career. When Crystal Palace then came up with a £30.5million bid for the Belgian, it seemed he may finally have a way out, only for Liverpool to rebuff their approach.
According to the Telegraph however, it has emerged that it was more the nature of the deal rather than the price itself that was responsible for it being turned away. The report states that Palace tabled an offer of an initial £23.5 million plus add-ons, with the additional clauses including an extra £2.5 million on the basis that Palace qualify for the Champions League, Benteke scoring 20 goals plus and playing in 70% of Palace’s fixtures in a top-four securing campaign. The three conditions all formed part of the same clause and for this reason it was deemed to be unacceptable for the Merseyside club.
Though £30 million for an outwardly misfiring striker seems a hefty price in itself, whether or not Palace alter their package and come back with the same amount of money. It could even be argued that the asking price is too hefty for a forward of Benteke’s standing at the present time.
The Belgian may have only netted a paltry nine times in 29 Premier League appearances for the Reds, but 42 goals in 89 Premier League outings during his three-year stint at Aston Villa suggests the forward is well worth his money in the right team, particularly so given the price Liverpool splashed out for him back in 2015.
It should not of course be forgotten that he is an international striker for his country, as well as a proven goalscorer in the Premier League, and his opportunities have mainly been limited at Liverpool thanks to the fact that he just doesn’t fit Klopp’s system or style of play. He is not the first player to have suffered the same fate at Liverpool, another being former Newcastle striker Andy Carroll, who didn’t quite slot into Kenny Dalglish or Brendan Rodgers’ respective systems and is now on the books at West Ham.
At Villa, Benteke had a team catered towards playing his way, playing around him as the spearhead and providing him the service to score the goals that for three seasons kept the Villains in the Premier League. Liverpool consequently will be more than aware that Benteke is capable of excelling elsewhere in the division and can justify his record as reasonable cause for his high asking price. It boils down to whether or not one believes a bad season for a player can have a detrimental effect on said player’s value.
Alan Pardew must believe that Benteke is worth the money Liverpool are demanding to be shelled out on him, though the Palace boss is desperate to reinforce his front-line after a disappointing opening day defeat at home to former boss Tony Pulis’ West Bromwich Albion. Palace failed to score that day, and firing blanks will surely continue at Selhurst Park if additions fail to arrive following the blow of Yannick Bolasie’s £28 million departure for Everton. Though arguably the South London club secured a fantastic deal in offloading the DR Congo international for such a high price.
Pardew obviously also has faith in Benteke’s ability to reinvigorate his scoring form, which will be particularly vital for a Palace side that managed only 39 goals in 38 Premier League games in 2015/16. If Benteke can recover his shooting boots and rediscover the spark in front of goal that shot him to prominence at Aston Villa, he will, undoubtedly, be worth every penny of what Liverpool are asking for. If not, and at 25 he is already a forward in decline, a drop in value will be impending.
For now however, after a bad spell at a club where he just didn’t really fit the bill for Klopp’s ideal striker, the Belgian is more than worth the gamble. Though as much of a gamble as it may seem, there is reason to justify Liverpool’s lofty valuation of the player, and it is simply a case of whether Palace go through with the deal after all, or whether any other club is prepared to cash-in on a risk that more than likely will pay dividends. Benteke is a forward who is worth the money and simply needs a platform to get back to his best, time will tell whether or not he has one at Crystal Palace.
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