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English Premier League

Why Liverpool shouldn’t spend Sterling money on Benteke



After a tricky 2014/15 campaign, Brendan Rodgers has once again looked to rebuild his Liverpool squad, already making six signings in this summer’s burgeoning transfer market. Now, with the £49 million sale of their contract rebelling starlet Raheem Sterling to Manchester City imminent, Liverpool are looking for a marquee name to fill the void left by Sterling, and a name they have been linked with all summer is that of Christian Benteke.

Benteke is an excellent striker; he has scored 49 goals in 100 appearances for an Aston Villa side that was often so dull, uninspiring and devoid of any creativity under Paul Lambert that they were perennially shunted to the darkest depths of the Match of the Day running order. Not only is his scoring record good, but he is also terrifying to play against. His physical presence is so huge that it seems at times it would take a whole team of defenders to stop him.

Liverpool need goals after their dismal regression from 101 to 52 over the last season, and have unsurprisingly been linked with Benteke. But, whilst Liverpool could do with another quality striker to support the oft-injured Daniel Sturridge, Benteke is not the man they need, and should the mooted £32.5 million move happen, it could turn into a bit of a nightmare for both parties.

The first piece of evidence that should discourage Liverpool from investing in Benteke is their recent history with forwards who play in a similar style to the big Belgian. Looking back to last summer, Liverpool signed Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert, both of whom are big, powerful, hold-up players who are not too dissimilar from Benteke. Whilst neither of these players are as good as the Aston Villa striker, they both struggled rather spectacularly to fit in with Brendan Rodgers propensity to keep the ball on the floor. Players like Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana are more accustomed to intricate interchanges rather than lumping the ball up to the big man.

Even before Rodgers came in, big strikers didn’t have the best of times at Anfield. Andy Carroll is probably the closest possible comparison to Benteke in terms of style, as well as transfer fee, and he didn’t settle well on Merseyside at all. Signing Benteke at a time where they have just lost Sterling for almost £50 million would carry shades of the Torres/Carroll exchange of January 2011. It is like trying to put a square peg in a round hole. Liverpool haven’t had a big striker that has proved successful since the days of the partnership between Michael Owen and Emile Heskey in the early 200os. Their style just doesn’t lend itself to players like Benteke, and hasn’t for a number of years.

Furthermore, whilst Benteke has proved himself to be an excellent striker on his day, question marks can still be raised over his consistency. It is quite normal for Benteke to follow a run where he is scoring more than a goal a game with a barren spell that can last for a significant portion of the season. In order to get back to fighting for the Champions League places again, Liverpool need a player who is going to deliver consistent performance, and not a player who blows as hot and cold as Christian Benteke.

With all of this in mind, Benteke would have to strongly consider whether Liverpool is the right move for him. At Aston Villa, he is the undisputed talisman, their most influential player, a big fish in the Premier League’s bottom half pond. Due to the difference in style at Liverpool, it is likely he would struggle to establish himself as the number one striker, especially with Daniel Sturridge close to a return from injury, which could leave Benteke sat on the bench, failing to make the most of his big-money move.

At 24, Benteke probably does need to be stepping up to a bigger club than Villa, but he also needs game time to mature into the fantastic striker he has the potential to become. There are clubs of similar or even greater stature than Liverpool who Benteke would fit perfectly, and he should hold out for a more direct side to come calling, rather than go to Anfield and risk stalling a career that is at a very fragile stage.

So Benteke isn’t the right player for Liverpool, and Liverpool isn’t the right place for Benteke. Liverpool need goals, and they have the money to get a player of Benteke’s quality following the sale of Sterling, but should go for a slighter, quicker and more skilful footballer. Benteke is in a stage of his career where he should be looking to play European football, but should wait for a club who cross the ball and play it up to the big man; who naturally play more to his strengths. Were this transfer to go through, it would mean each party getting what they want, rather than what they need. Sometimes, certain players don’t fit in at certain clubs. Liverpool and Benteke are a perfect example. It may seem convenient, but both would be better off without the other.

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John is a history graduate from the University of Southampton, and will soon be completing a Master's degree in Journalism at Cardiff University

Manchester United

Why Jose Mourinho’s treatment of Luke Shaw has crossed the line

The Portuguese manager has been highly critical of Luke Shaw this season.

Rob Meech



Luke Shaw
Photo: Getty Images

The fractious relationship between Jose Mourinho and Luke Shaw plumbed new depths when the left-back was substituted at half-time in Manchester United’s FA Cup victory over Brighton & Hove Albion. The 22-year-old had been handed a rare opportunity to impress at Old Trafford but lasted only 45 minutes.

Speaking about Shaw in his post-match interview, Mourinho said: “Luke, in the first half, every time they came in his corridor, the cross came in and a dangerous situation was coming. I was not happy with his performance.”

The differences between the pair now appear to be irreconcilable. Shaw, who was signed by Louis van Gaal in the summer of 2014, has been used sparingly by Mourinho. The former Southampton starlet has made just 18 Premier League appearances under the Portuguese in a career that has been blighted by injuries.

Being substituted at half-time is almost as embarrassing as it gets for a player and Shaw’s mood will not have improved after being publicly criticised by his manager. It’s certainly not the first time Mourinho has chosen to talk candidly to the media about his concerns with the 22-year-old.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Some players require an arm around the shoulder to perform at their peak, while for others it takes a kick up the backside. Mourinho, opting for the latter, does nothing without reason and has clearly tried to spark a reaction from Shaw, without success.

From being one of English football’s brightest prospects after making his World Cup debut aged just 18, Shaw, who has seven England caps to his name, is in danger of not fulfilling the potential that convinced United to spend what was then a world-record fee for a teenager.

Mourinho’s tactic of singling out individuals who have not met his standards is in stark contrast to Sir Alex Ferguson, who never blamed his players in public. It has divided opinion among pundits, with Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier claiming the United manager is ‘destroying’ Shaw.

Mourinho is an expert at using smokescreens to distract from his side’s unconvincing performances. And this latest controversy has moved the narrative on from United’s shock Champions League exit at the hands of Sevilla.

(Photo by Lindsey Parnaby/Getty Images)

Tough love is one thing, but the sustained, public attack on Shaw is unacceptable. If Mourinho genuinely believes he is not good enough to represent United, then fair enough. But to continually vilify the youngster’s performances is a step too far and one that could irreparably damage Shaw’s confidence.

This is not to say that Shaw is a completely innocent bystander. Mourinho’s predecessor, Louis van Gaal, also questioned his desire and general conditioning when he joined United four years ago. Indeed, the Dutchman signed Shaw up to a tailored exercise regime in an effort to improve his fitness.

But while van Gaal’s treatment had the desired effect, Mourinho’s has done the opposite. Being publicly humiliated on a routine basis does neither party any favours.

In all likelihood, Shaw’s disappointing United career will come to an end this summer. A fresh start away from the toxicity under Mourinho is exactly what he needs.

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English Premier League

Keanan Bennetts has perfect opportunity to impress Mauricio Pochettino this week

The left-sided star has a chance to impress in first-team training during the international break.



Photo: Getty Images

With the international week in full flow, plenty of teams in the Premier League have seen their squads diminished by call-ups to national teams.

Tottenham Hotspur are one such side. Nonetheless, with most of the first-team squad away with their respective nations, work continues at Hotspur Way.

In order for Spurs to have a full complement in training, plenty of young talent needs to be pulled in to the ranks.

Mauricio Pochettino will, therefore,e get a chance to see some of his young players training with regular first-team players such as Fernando Llorente, Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

One player who will be training with the first-team this week is talented wide-man Keanan Bennetts, according to London Live.

The 19-year-old left-winger has been catching the eye for the club’s youth team in recent weeks, making the news after scoring a fantastic goal for the under-19s against Monaco in the UEFA Youth League last month.

Bennetts has also been attracting interest for his positional dexterity. The wide-man has played at left-back in recent times and it could be that is his future best position.

This week he will be up against some excellent players such as Lamela and Moura, who did not receive selection to the Argentina and Brazil national teams, respectively.

If he can prove himself with this calibre of player, Pochettino will have to take notice.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

It is coming to a point in his Tottenham career when Bennetts has to make such an impact. The teenager is out of contract at Spurs in the summer and needs to ensure he is kept on for at least one more season.

Tottenham fans who follow the youth teams are certain he is deserving of such a chance. If he can show Pochettino what he is capable of this week, then a new deal will surely be in the pipeline for the talented wide-man.

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English Premier League

Despite improvement, Everton should not rekindle Thomas Vermaelen interest

The Belgian defender has been in better form for Barcelona this season.



Rumours have emerged today suggesting Everton could be back in for Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen.

Catalan newspaper Sport has reported that the 32-year-old could be offered a new deal by Barcelona, with a team from the Premier League interested in signing him.

Sport Witness has openly hypothesised that Everton could be that team. Whilst there is no confirmation or substantiated report that is the case, the boot certainly fits.

Last summer Everton tried to sign Vermaelen.

As reported by the Liverpool Echo, at the time Barcelona vetoed a loan move to Everton as they felt the defender could be a useful asset.

The Belgian certainly has. After struggling with injuries and form throughout most of his Barcelona tenure the former Arsenal man has enjoyed a good season.

The 32-year-old has been a genuine asset to the Catalans, despite still being used sparingly, and such form has even seen him win back a place in Roberto Martinez’s national selection for Belgium.

If it is Everton interested in Vermaelen it is easy to see why. Centre-back has been a major problem for the club this season.

However, Vermaelen, or a player of his ilk, is not the answer to the Toffees’ woes.

(Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

The Belgian is obviously a talented player with plenty of experience, but Everton need to freshen up their back-line.

Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka’s age has shown in recent months.

The pair have been, at the best, inconsistent for the past 18 months and Everton need fresh young talent in the heart of defence if they are to succeed.

Vermaelen is not only 32 but also immensely injury prone. Everton need reliable figures to plug their leaky defences and the Belgian can simply not be relied upon.

Whilst on paper it seems a good deal, and one Everton could certainly turn to their benefit.

The truth is supporters of the Goodison Park outfit will hope they are not the club reportedly keen on bringing Vermaelen back to the Premier League.

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