Should Everton or Sunderland pay £30 million for Liverpool's Christian Benteke?

During his Aston Villa days, Christian Benteke was one of the most in demand players in the Premier League. Three scintillating seasons in a largely poor Villa side kept the Midlands club afloat in the top flight, some say for longer than they should have been, before his inevitable £32.5 million move to Liverpool.

In the 2014/15 season, Villa scraped survival by just three points. The 25 year old scored 13 goals in 26 starts over the course of the campaign in a team that seriously struggled to create chances. Benteke scored more than a third of the Villans goals despite missing nine games, and it’s widely accepted that they would’ve been relegated if not for his exploits.

 

Liverpool’s decision to sign Benteke was a surprise to many, despite his heroics in a claret and blue shirt. Target man Andy Carroll was something of a failure in Brendan Rodgers system, and the powerful target man simply didn’t adapt well to his style of football.

Similarly, Christian Benteke never really looked at home under Rodgers. His hold up play was suboptimal despite his size, and he simply wasn’t aware enough to beat the offside trap, leaving him relatively ineffectual from open play.

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Benteke also lacks commitment to the defensive side of the game, bar set pieces. As Jurgen Klopp arrived at Anfield, the striker quickly fell out of favour at Anfield. Benteke was limited to just 14 starts over the course of last season, and were it not for injuries to Daniel Sturridge and Danny Ings, it could’ve been significantly less.

Despite those reservations, Benteke still contributed a fair amount to Liverpool’s limited success last season. He netted every 168 minutes for the Reds last season, which, for largely an impact sub, is a considerable return.

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So, even with the weight of the media’s criticism, clubs are still pursuing the Belgian target man.

Ronald Koeman has made Benteke a primary target should they sell club talisman Romelu Lukaku, while David Moyes is looking to compete with his old club to bring the powerful striker to Sunderland in an effort to distance themselves from the relegation zone next season.

His lack of performances has done Christian Benteke a disservice, in the grand scheme of things. The powerful striker is untameable on his day and a true nightmare for defences to deal with. His 6’3” frame makes him a daunting physical presence to come up against, and his aerial threat can’t be ignored.

The Belgian has won 6.6 aerial duels per game on average throughout his career, a true testament to his dominance in the air. In a side that relies more on crossing and set pieces, he would doubtless thrive.

In addition, the centre forward was only dispossessed once per game on average last season. If he can develop his passing game and attain a pass completion rate above the current 65%, Benteke could prove to be a serious contender for a starting position in any system, as opposed to needing a team built around him.

Perhaps the defining trait of a centre forward is their ability to put the ball in the back of the net. Benteke hit the target with 44% of his shots at Liverpool last season, only just short of Premier League Golden Boot winner Harry Kane.

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While Christian Benteke has struggled at Liverpool since he joined, there’s no doubt that he’s still a Premier League quality centre forward. At a new club he’d doubtless be given more of an opportunity to thrive in a team built around him, rather than being shoe-horned into a Liverpool line up that didn’t necessarily play to his strengths.

Liverpool are rumoured to be holding out for a £30million bid, but with Jurgen Klopp stating that he’s welcome to leave, they may accept a lesser offer. Whichever club Benteke joins, it will be exciting to see if he can recognise his much touted potential.

Featured image: All rights reserved by arsenal_wallpapers

Will also writes for Football Ticket Net, his choice for Premier League tickets

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