Belgian striker Christian Benteke was recently one of the most expensive players in the Premier League, leaving Aston Villa for Liverpool last summer for over 32 million pounds. Now, it seems he is on the move again in another switch that will bring him high hopes to succeed.
Reports around the UK confirm that Liverpool and Crystal Palace have come to terms on a fee for the centre-forward, with Liverpool possibly recouping almost the entirety of their original investment. The arrival of manager Jurgen Klopp in place of Brendan Rodgers this past season ultimately saw the end for both Benteke and forward Mario Balotelli at Anfield, as neither fit into the new system and a different squad has now taken shape.
Nine league goals last year for Benteke was less than what Liverpool would have expected of him, though injuries and team selection meant he didn’t have as much game time as he would have perhaps expected. As a result, he will soon find himself at Selhurst Park with Crystal Palace, as manager Alan Pardew has invested significant money in the Belgian in the hope the forward can make a big impact and help to improve upon a disappointing loss at home to West Bromwich Albion last weekend.
The sale of Yannick Bolasie to Everton was essential in making the deal work financially and has allowed Benteke to become the most expensive piece of transfer business in Palace history. If the Eagles are going to refine their 15th-place league finish from 2015-16, they will need to see a more consistent attack going forward with increased quality. Here, we look at what Christian Benteke can bring to South London and whether he is the right man for the job.
Premier League Experience
A proven goal-scorer, Benteke brings a wealth of experience and an excellent track record as a Premier League striker. In four seasons with Liverpool and Aston Villa, Benteke scored 51 goals in 118 Premier League appearances. This type of output is certainly what both Palace management and supporters will want to see from him. 6 goals in 26 caps with the Belgian national team provides valuable experience at international level as well.
Perhaps the most valuable asset that Christian Benteke possesses is his youth. Still only 25 years old, there is quite a bit of potential for the forward if placed in the right system. Operating at his best in a central role with service from the wings, Crystal Palace could provide an ideal environment for Benteke to find his strong scoring touch once more. An injury to his Achilles’ tendon in 2014 ended his 2013-14 season with Aston Villa prematurely and kept him from participating in that summer’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil, but Benteke seems to have recovered well and still has many good years in front of him.
Exactly What Crystal Palace Need at the Moment
With so much pace and quality in wide midfield and on the wings, Crystal Palace will be the ideal stop for Benteke’s skill set. Operating in a classic No. 9 position, players like Wilfried Zaha and Jason Puncheon will be able to find the Belgian consistently and could see the Palace attack reach a new level.
French midfielder Yohan Cabaye who pulls the strings in midfield is also likely to create chances for Benteke. With optimistic goals of a higher Premier League finish and return to the FA Cup final firmly established, Alan Pardew and Palace will be ecstatic to have pushed this transfer through.