A lot will be asked of Christian Benteke as he makes his transition from Aston Villa to Anfield for the 2015/16 Premier League campaign.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) July 22, 2015
After all, many doubt he is worth the £32.5 million Liverpool paid for him. Many doubt that he can fill the shoes left behind by Luis Suarez, as well as Fernando Torres before him. Once this coming season finally rolls around, Benteke will be able to answer the questions surrounding his arrival.
Will he flourish the way Suarez did in his time at Anfield, or will he flop in the fashion of Mario Balotelli? While so much speculation surrounds the 24-year-old Belgian, there appear to be many reasons to believe that his capture is a positive one for Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool.
1. Lack of top class strikers at Anfield
It’s been said before, and it will be said again, but Luis Suarez is not walking through the door to save Liverpool. This past season, it was up to Daniel Sturridge and company but let’s face it, it was a miserable failure.
Sturridge was unable to stay on the pitch and the likes of Rickie Lambert, Fabio Borini and Balotelli were practically invisible. Although the latter three may be on their way out, what Liverpool have left is a recovering Sturridge, along with young Divock Origi and newly signed Danny Ings – good footballers, but not quite the star-studded group this club needs.
Benteke is not necessarily one of the world’s best strikers, but at only age 24, he could work his way up there. Regardless, he is a better option than Origi and Ings. He could even give Sturridge a run for his money in the talent department.
The signing of Benteke could land Liverpool a great striker for the foreseeable future, and could provide them the class they’ve been lacking up top.
2. Benteke’s style of play
Benteke is a pure target man in the center of the pitch, but he is not limited to that. In his time at Villa and the Belgian national team, he has displayed more skill than the generic big man in the middle.
He has shown good ball control, dribbling, passing, and long range shooting to go along with his aerial prowess and close-range finishing.
Looking at the success Benteke achieved later on last season with Villa when the creative Jack Grealish was utilized on the wing, it is clear that Liverpool have the weapons like Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho to complement Benteke from the flanks.
If Brendan Rodgers opts for two strikers, he also has hard-working, pacey options to complement the target man.
3. Size and durability
Christian Benteke is well known for his size, which contributes immensely to his style of play.
Standing at 6 feet 3 inches, he is as large or even larger than many of the defenders he sizes up against in the Premier League. His height and jumping ability makes him a huge aerial threat, which is something Liverpool were missing on crosses and set pieces last season.
There is no doubt, Benteke – who benefited from crosses with Villa – will likely fare better at Anfield.
His size also comes with strength, as he has the ability to power his way through the defense and virtually bully defenders.
Another attribute that goes along with Benteke’s size is his durability. Other than a freak incident in training where he ruptured his achilles tendon, leaving him out of the 2014 World Cup, he has been able to stay on the pitch quite frequently.
Injury woes have plagued Liverpool when it comes to their strikers (mainly with Sturridge), so having a good striker who is capable of staying on the pitch is a big plus for Brendan Rodgers.
Something that comes across as such a simple thing turned out be quite complicated for Liverpool during this past campaign, as their goal total from 2013/14 was nearly cut in half a year later.
The failed signings up front played an enormous role in that drop-off, and that is set to change with Benteke.
From 2012-2015 with Villa, the Belgian managed 42 goals in 88 Premier League appearances. Already solid numbers while playing with a team that teetered on relegation over the past few years, the goal tally could go even higher when surrounded by the talent Liverpool have gathered.
Defensive deficiencies have marred Liverpool over the past few seasons but with Benteke, the hope is high that the offensive deficiencies will go away and he is likely to contribute to that.
5. Caps off a good summer transfer window
If there is one thing Liverpool have failed at over the past few seasons under the management of Fenway Sports Group, it is their attempts to sign big-name players.
Before last season, Liverpool were passed over for other Premier League clubs by stars such as Diego Costa and Alexis Sanchez. It seemed as if they were headed in the same direction in this summer transfer window when Memphis Depay chose Manchester United.
However, the Merseyside club have managed to turn it around with good signings in Firmino, Ings, James Milner, Nathaniel Clyne among others. They appeared to have done good business but one more signing had to be made.
The signing of Benteke may have been an expensive one, but it proves that Liverpool can still attract good players. It’s also huge not only because Benteke will help them advance in England as well as Europe, but also help them battle other clubs off the pitch for the signatures of other top class players in the future.
Benteke’s signing, if anything, shows that Liverpool’s transfer policy this summer is a great step forward from past mistakes.