Christian Benteke is set to become Liverpool’s second most expensive ever signing – but he’s nothing like record signing Andy Carroll, writes Joseph Copeland.
During a tumultuous 2014-15 Premier League season, Liverpool FC scored a grand total of 52 goals in 38 games. With the departure of the frustrating Raheem Sterling to Manchester City, it is only natural that the Reds brass looks for new attacking options.
Imagine my surprise seeing so many negative reactions to the news that Liverpool are closing in on a £32.5 million pound deal to sign Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke.
42 goals in 87 Premier League appearances at Villa Park for the big Belgian speaks for itself. His 13 goals last campaign would have led Liverpool by four – over penalty specialist Steven Gerrard.
It wasn’t too long ago that any Liverpool fan would have been delighted to be linked with such a potent goal scorer. Now however, many Reds fans bear the scars of past flops and busts in the transfer market that has left them jaded and wary of any new arrivals.
The popular opinion among fans is that this is a carbon copy of the Andy Carroll disaster from 2011. Liverpool had just sold Fernando Torres to their rivals Chelsea Football Club for £50 million. There were questions on what that money would be used for, and it turns out that the then 22 year-old Carroll was the choice. Aside from a handful of memorable performances, Carroll was ultimately a failure at Anfield.
Yes, Benteke is going to cost roughly the same amount of money. Yes, he is a big and strong forward. However, he is not Andy Carroll.
While Carroll is an aerial specialist who has a limited skillset with his feet, Benteke is a much better all-around forward. Pundits will not deny his aerial prowess which is comparable to very few players. He’s not only strong in the air, but he is also strong on the ball. He has underrated ball skills that he uses to perfection in combination with his strength. Defenders simply bounce off him like he is made of rubber.
He’s a far more polished product than Mario Balotelli was upon his arrival last year. At 24, Benteke is just entering the prime of his career. Haven’t fans been clamoring for instant impact players? Benteke is no project. He will contribute from the very beginning. This is an investment not only for next year, but the long haul at Anfield.
The Belgian has proven he can be a match winner, even for a middling side like Villa. Combining him with the talent already on Merseyside can only have a positive effect on him both on and off the pitch.
Not every club can sign the Cavani’s, Reus’ and Ronaldo’s of the world. It’s just not feasible. Fans must temper their expectations when it comes to new arrivals. Christian Benteke is a very good player that many teams would love to have in their side.
Is he going to deliver Champions League football on his own? Of course he isn’t, but he will surely be a key contributor to the cause. Hopefully the naysayers will hold off their judgements on the deal until he has actually put in a few shifts for the club.
In a period of flux at Liverpool, Benteke can prove to be a solid piece of business that helped set the club on the right track. The future will be quite intriguing.