The View From Above discusses how Christian Benteke has not done as poorly as many believe. A strong case is made for the Belgian to stay on Merseyside next season.
Where to start with Christian Benteke?
12 months ago Liverpool fans across the globe were frothing at the mouth at the thought of Christian Benteke in a Liverpool shirt.
He signed for Liverpool on the 22nd July 2015 after Brendan Rodgers finally bowed to the £32.5 million release clause in his contract with Aston Villa.
His goal scoring record for a poor Aston Villa side who flirted with relegation was fantastic. 42 goals in 89 appearances, giving him a goal return of just below 1 in 2.
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Villa’s demise without Benteke highlights just how important Big Ben was to them.
He helped take them to the FA Cup final, where they were thrashed 4-0 by Arsenal. He even helped Villa beat Liverpool in the semi-final, getting in on the score sheet placing a neat shot passed Mignolet, finding the bottom right corner from just inside the area.
However, unfortunately for Liverpool, and us fans, his stats this past season have failed to live up to past glories. Or so it would seem.
He has featured in 29 League games this past season and scored 9 goals. He also got on the score sheet with a lovely goal against Bordeaux in the Europa League.
It’s a stat which isn’t befitting a player of Benteke’s calibre, or should that be Benteke’s expected calibre.
That being said, when you break this stat down you find that Benteke has only started 14 games and it doesn’t matter what league you play in, 9 goals in 14 starts is a good return.
He opened his Liverpool account against Bournemouth at Anfield in a 1-0 victory.
His second and best goal in a Liverpool shirt came at Old Trafford with an overhead kick against arguably the best keeper in the Premier League – how this was not our goal of the season I’ll never know!
He got on the score sheet v Southampton at Anfield and against Chelsea at the Bridge.
His goal in the Europa League came in November before scoring against Leicester at Anfield and Sunderland in the North East in consecutive 1-0 wins
A loss of form and confidence as well as Divock Origi’s rich vein of form meant Benteke’s next goal wasn’t until March where he won and coolly slotted a 96th min penalty into the back of the net against Palace at Selhurst Park to snatch the 3 points for the Reds.
A consolation goal against Swansea in a make shift Liverpool team, and a last minute equaliser against Chelsea in the last home game of the season completed Benteke’s goal round up.
One thing you’ll notice about the goals he has scored is that they have been key goals.
Take away Benteke’s goals and that would mean that Liverpool would be 10 points worse off, leaving them in 9th position below Stoke City and level on points with Chelsea, who incidentally would have gone above us had Benteke not scored against them at Anfield. Liverpool FC finishing 10th – our worst Premier League finish ever.
Now whether we finish 8th, 9th or 10th doesn’t really make a difference other aside from a pride point of view, but imagine those 10 points had we finished in the top 4 or indeed top of the table. It’s not often a team wins the league by more than 10 points, the same goes for Champions League qualification.
The fans view on Benteke is simple. He doesn’t fit in with our style of play and he doesn’t fit in with Klopp’s pressing philosophy. But the fact remains, a player that we don’t fully utilize by playing to his strengths and clearly isn’t used to the pressing tactics that Jürgen Klopp insists on, still managed 9 goals in 14 starts in his debut season at Anfield.
Now the question remains, will he stay or will he go?
We all have our opinions and I personally think he is worth another season. Klopp has had experience of moulding strikers into what he needs, he did so with Robert Lewandowski at Dortmund. Comparisons have been made between the 2 strikers and if Klopp is able to get Benteke to do what Lewandowski did for him so well, then that could elevate Benteke into a truly world class striker.
Benteke should have shined this past year, with injuries to Sturridge and Ings there was ample opportunity.
Maybe, just maybe, he has felt the pressure of an over inflated price tag and playing for a club like Liverpool. As fans not too long ago we were blessed with Suarez leading our forward line. Is Benteke just unlucky that comparisons are being made to Suarez? If so then there is no striker in the world who will live up to the expectation set by the best striker in the world.
Some players are able to detach themselves from reality, block out all distraction, there are then other players who need an arm around the shoulder from the manager and need to feel loved. If Benteke gets this from Klopp as he had previously from Sherwood at Villa, then who knows what could happen? The sky could be the limit.
The likelihood is that Big Ben will play his football elsewhere next season, with West Ham apparently keen on his signature, I for one though would hope he is given another 12 months to prove his worth. Since the season has finished there have been rumours that he has approached Klopp for talks on his future and how, if at all, he can fit into the German’s style of play.
Whatever happens one thing I am sure of is that Benteke will score goals next season, whether they are at Anfield or not will be decided in the coming weeks.
The View From Above – Main Stand, Block U3
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