According to the the Times, Antonio Conte may be keen to take Christian Benteke to Chelsea as the 2014/15 Premier League champions look to bolster their ranks.
Liverpool’s want-away Belgian forward may be the subject of a Chelsea transfer bid. Benteke has played minimal football since Brendan Rodgers was replaced by Jürgen Klopp. Since the charismatic German was appointed in October, Benteke has only taken part in 8 Premier League games.
The writing has been on the wall ever since Klopp took charge. In his very first game against Tottenham he played Benteke’s more mobile Belgian countryman, Divock Origi. It was clear from the very beginning that Benteke didn’t suit the style that Klopp prefers.
During a press conference just before Euro 2016 kicked off, Benteke spoke of his discontent at the lack of playing time he’s had:
“I still have a contract at Liverpool and I’d like to stay there, if I remain in the coach’s plans.
“If that’s not the case, it will become difficult to stay.
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“When Klopp arrived I saw that I wasn’t in his plans. That was frustrating because I knew that during my first season at Aston Villa he wanted me.
“But we had several discussions together – I respect and I understand his decisions. I’ll think about if after the Euros.”
It’s quite difficult to resent Benteke for being unsettled. While I’m not saying he’s a shoe-in to start next season, he definitely has Premier League pedigree. Aston Villa’s relegation last season speak volumes to the importance he had to the Villains.
The Times claim that Chelsea, under Conte, intend to adopt the 3-3-4 system. While it may be significant that he plans to feature three centre-backs it’s also noteworthy that the system features two forwards. Benteke may be Diego Costa’s strike partner for the 2016/17 campaign.
A move to Chelsea may be one of the rare occasions where it suits all parties involved. While Liverpool are unlikely to recoup the full £32.5 million invested in Benteke, any return on an unsuccessful signing will be appreciated. On the other hand, Chelsea will be acquiring a forward who has a boast-worthy Premier League strike rate of 0.43 goals per game.
The fee for Benteke should not be less than £20 million. He has the quality to succeed in England’s first division, that is not up for debate, but it’s a question of playing in the right system with the right players. Benteke once spke of Liverpool’s pressing sytem in a very candid and flippant manner in March, while speaking to Sport/Voetbal:
“It’s not like we were playing like Barcelona.
“I don’t understand that they would say that I don’t suit his style of play.
“Pressing, to move, I know how to do it.”
I really don’t doubt Benteke’s ability when utilized efficiently. Considering a few of the comments he has made and the apparent gulf between the player and Klopp, I don’t expect to see Benteke at Liverpool next season, but whether or not he’ll be a Chelsea player is a different question entirely.