Michael Baddeley poses a very interesting question: should Liverpool sell Christian Benteke or keep him on as an alternative striking option.
A lot has been made of Benteke and his future at the club. Should he stay or should he go? In my opinion it could come back to bite us on the arse if we were to sell him. He’s not had a great season and yes I admit he doesn’t fit in with the style of play Klopp likes. But he’s still scored 10 goals for the club in all competitions and has played quite a few games coming off the bench.
The fact of the matter is that he’s a goalscorer. No two ways about it, Benteke will bag you goals. In the Premier League he took part in 29 games scoring nine goals. In 14 of those games he started and scored only three goals, not great really, but then he came on from the bench in 15 and bagged six goals. Just over one every other game, not too bad really. So from just looking at those stats alone, particularly the last one, he hasn’t exactly done too badly.
Across all competitions, the big Belgian has taken 45 shots at goal, 25 of these were off target and 20 were on target. Bagging 10 goals for the reds means that for every two shots he had on target, one went in. Thats pretty impressive if you ask me.
Yes, I admit that he has hit more off target than he has put on target, but that’s just a confidence issue. I’m certain that if he had more confidence then we would have seen him hit more shots at goal, a lot more on target and more than likely the net would have been bulging a lot more.
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As we’ve seen so often, ‘Tekkers loves the ball whipped onto his head or chest for him to take down and muscle his way past someone, or too flick on and bring other team mates in to the phase of play. He doesn’t like to sit on the shoulder of the last defender and run onto balls, but when you’re so good in the air then why would you?
Even when he’s on the ball and has it at his feet he is so hard to knock off, as we’ve seen many times against Liverpool in his Villa days, due to his strength he can hold off players and bring others into the game.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t really do much chasing down or pressing up front. But tell me something, does Sturridge press from the front? He might do it more than Benteke, but if you ask me he can be just as lazy 75% of the time. Don’t get me wrong I love Sturridge as a player and he probably suits Klopp’s style a lot more, but when teams are sitting back and just soaking up the pressure he offers absolutely nothing. Where as Benteke will.
How many times a season do we see Liverpool struggling to break down teams who are just sitting back and soaking up the pressure? In fact, I think I’ve lost count and that’s just in the Premier League.
He offers something different, he’s an option from the bench when we can’t break down a team. Bring him on, get the ball out-wide and hit balls into the box. As I said earlier, he scored six coming off the bench last season and with a proper winger like Mané on our side he could be lethal.
Recently we’ve seen him linked with teams such as West Ham, Chelsea and Crystal Palace from the Premier League. He’s even been linked with European giants Juventus with Sky Bet making them and West Ham the second favourites to sign him at 8/1.
For me, letting him go to someone like West Ham or Crystal Palace would be ludicrous. How many times have we seen these two teams get the ball out wide to the wingers and hit long balls into the box for a big man to attack? Benteke would excel and be a real threat to Liverpool at one of these teams, merely because this is the sort of player our defenders struggle against. I couldn’t comment on how Chelsea would utilize him as I’ not familiar with Conte’s style of play, but I can imagine it would be similar to the other two sides.
If we’re going to let him go then ship him off abroad. Don’t be so naive and think that letting him go to a Premier League team would be fine due to his form because it wouldn’t be.
Personally, I wouldn’t be selling Benteke. Not until he’s been given a good chance this pre-season that is. We know what he’s capable of and he is actually a very good player when used correctly. He might not be a starter for Liverpool, but having him as an option to mix things up when we’re struggling to score would be a no-brainer for me.
Give him time to adapt and if he doesn’t then look to ship him off, but not to anyone that could be a direct threat to the club and it chances at a top four finish and until he’s been given a full pre-season under Klopp.