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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.

Jake Jackman

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Photo: Getty Images

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.

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.

Crystal Palace

“I want £267 million for Wilf”: Crystal Palace fans react to Richarlison’s reported fee

The Brazilian looks set for a £50 million move to Everton.

Max Cohen

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Richarlison
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On Friday, BBC Sport reported that Everton were closing in on signing Watford winger Richarlison for a fee that could rise to a total of £50 million.

The news of the fee immediately caught the eye of Crystal Palace supporters, who have been embroiled in a high-stakes transfer saga of their own with Everton.

The Toffees have been a club consistently linked with Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, leading Eagles supporters to scoff at the price attached to Richarlison.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

For many Palace fans, the 21-year-old Brazilian is being overpriced, leading them to value Zaha much higher than the £70 million asking price the south London club had established.

A comparison of the two wingers proves that it is a valid point, as Richarlison has just one year’s experience in the Premier League and is enduring a run of poor form, with his last goal coming in November and his last assist coming in December.

Zaha, on the other hand, is a seasoned Premier League performed and enjoyed a stellar 2017/18 season with nine goals and five assists, despite missing nine matches through injury.

Popular Palace fansite HLTCO seized on this disparity, offering a revised transfer fee for Zaha in light of the Richarlison deal.

Richarlison’s meagre goal-scoring tally was also brought up when marvelling at his transfer fee.

Another Eagles supporter offered up perhaps a more reasonable price for the club’s prized Ivory Coast international.

The confusion over the inflated price was best summed up by a quick recap of Richarlison’s transfer history.

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Crystal Palace

The media obsession with Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha should be ignored

The winger is being heavily linked with a move away from Selhurst Park.

Max Cohen

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Wilfried Zaha
Photo: Getty Images

Ask any Crystal Palace fan their least favourite part of the summer, and one answer will stand out: the endless media obsession about the future of Wilfried Zaha.

After further reports in The Times, Mirror, and The Sun linking the Ivory Coast international with a move away from Selhurst Park, Palace supporters should tune out the noise and focus on the facts of the matter.

Zaha is currently under contract at Selhurst Park, having signed a five-year deal just over a year ago. Despite the rumoured interest from the likes of Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, and Borussia Dortmund, Crystal Palace hold all the cards in the situation.

And, to add to their strong position, manager Roy Hodgson has made it very clear he has no intention of selling the winger when speaking to football.london last week:

“What people seem to forget with Wilf is he has got a four-year contract. There is speculation every year around Messi and Ronaldo too. He is our player for the next four years and the club has got no interest or desire to sell him.”

(during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion at Selhurst Park on May 13, 2018 in London, England.

This strong statement from the Palace manager is the only thing that holds significance with regards to the Zaha saga. At the end of the day, there can be as much speculation and interest from clubs as possible, but if the club is not willing to sell then the player will stay put.

Additionally, the reports that Zaha is unsettled at Palace seem like nothing more than sensational claims. This is a player who expressed his love for the fans and the club as recently as April, talking to the Eagles’ official website after a win against Brighton.

“Crystal Palace is my home town and the support we have here is genuine support with families watching with their kids loving us as players so I don’t really see myself anywhere else.”

In all, one must focus on what is relevant in the Wilfried Zaha transfer saga: the actual words of the figures involved.

With Zaha expressing his happiness and Hodgson making it clear no sale is forthcoming, the media obsession over the winger’s Selhurst Park exit appears unfounded.

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Khouma Babacar would be underwhelming solution to Crystal Palace’s striker problem

The 25-year-old isn’t exactly a prolific goalscorer.

Max Cohen

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Babacar
Photo: Getty Images

According to the Mirror, Crystal Palace are close to completing a £12 million move for Sassuolo striker Khouma Babacar.

The Senegalese forward scored just six goals in the league last season and would represent an underwhelming solution to Crystal Palace’s striker problem.

Last season, the Eagles struggled massively for goals, with only central midfielder Luka Milivojevic reaching double figures in the league. As for strikers, Christian Benteke scored just three goals in a hugely disappointing year, and Alexander Sorloth failed to score in his four appearances.

It is clear the south Londoners desperately need a prolific centre-forward in order to succeed in 2018/19, yet Babacar simply is not the right choice.

(Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images)

At 25 years of age, he has already been around Italian football for a long time, making his debut for Fiorentina in 2009 as a 16-year-old. Yet he struggled to nail down a starting spot and spent time on loan in Serie B and La Liga before enjoying a breakout season for Fiorentina 2016/17.

In that year, he banged in 10 goals in 22 league appearances while also netting four times in the Europa League. Yet disappointingly, he scored just four times in the first half of 2017/18, before being shipped off to Sassuolo on loan where he found the net on just two occasions in 13 appearances.

Far from an outstanding goalscorer in Italy, it is unclear where Babacar would fit in at Palace, and it is unlikely he could turn around the fortunes of the club’s struggling strike force.

Roy Hodgson would do well to pass on the signing of the £12 million Senegalese international and focus his efforts on a more proven striker with a better goal record.

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