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Crystal Palace’s Christian Benteke has a point to prove to club and country

Photo: Getty Images

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace’s Christian Benteke has a point to prove to club and country

The striker was dropped from Roberto Martinez’s latest Belgium squad.

At the age of 27, Christian Benteke should be reaching the peak of his career, but he has only scored two Premier League goals this season.

His bad form hasn’t been ignored by his national team manager, as Roberto Martinez has omitted him from the most recent Belgium squad just months ahead of the World Cup.

It would be a bitter pill to swallow if he wasn’t in Russia this summer as he was forced to miss the 2014 tournament through injury.

This is a player that has been transferred for £27 million or more on two occasions in his career and he is now struggling to live up to his undoubted talent.

Crystal Palace looked to be a great fit for him after a miserable spell with Liverpool. The Eagles play a more direct style and have wide players capable of providing the service that the striker needs to thrive.

His first season with the club was a positive one, as he scored 15 goals and contributed two assists. However, his form has declined rapidly and two goals in 25 Premier League matches isn’t good enough for a player with his ability.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

The fact that Crystal Palace have been fighting relegation this season has been partly due to the lack of goals from their first-choice striker.

The lack of options up front at Selhurst Park means that Roy Hodgson doesn’t have an opportunity to take the Belgian out of the firing line.

Alexander Sorloth was signed in January, but he looks very raw and isn’t ready to be the leading man for the South London club at this time.

Statistically, Benteke has been causing less of a threat in the final third, but the drop-off isn’t enough to justify a scoring at the decreased rate that he is.

This season, he has averaged 2.35 shots per ninety minutes, which is down from 3.02 last term. Meanwhile, his shot accuracy has decreased from 45% to 43%.

As the problems have persisted, his lack of confidence has contributed to the lack of form he is experiencing.

Although he is no longer scoring goals as regularly as he was, he still has merit to this Palace team.

His aerial dominance has been important this season, as it brings the midfielders into the game. He has won 56.40% of his aerial duels.

In addition to being an effective target man, he has created 1.13 chances per ninety minutes and has five assists in the Premier League. This is up from last season.

The final seven matches of the season will be crucial in shaping the future of Christian Benteke and his Belgium omission has given him motivation to get back to his best.

(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Sky Sports report the following quotes from the striker:

“It’s the first time I’ve not been selected in the squad since I first joined, so it was difficult. I spoke with the manager, who called me straight away after, and talked to me about it. I think it’s fair, what he said, but it’s between him and me.

“Of course, it gives me more motivation. Only more goals will help me to get back to where I want to be.”

These comments show maturity from Benteke as he hasn’t taken the decision personally and sees the reasons why Martinez made the decision that he did.

The focus is now on him to react in the right way and score goals for Crystal Palace to help them stave off the threat of relegation. Only that will help him fulfil his World Cup dream.

He faces his former club, Liverpool, this weekend and getting on the scoresheet will be the perfect way to prove he is ready to fight.

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Jake Jackman

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

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