Belgian coach Michel Bruyninckx has praised the mental qualities of Christian Benteke, saying he’s confident the striker can adapt to life at Liverpool.
After making the £32.5 million move to Liverpool this summer, Christian Benteke has been praised for his mental fortitude.
Michel Bruyninckx, a Belgian coach renowned for his work in intelligence-boosting training, told the Mirror that Benteke “can adapt to any club,” after suggestions that the striker was a poor fit for the Reds.
“When he was a boy in Belgium, he changed regularly from one club to another, because he only had one profile — as a physically strong player,” he said.
“I tried to encourage him then to expand his mind to see that he must not accept those labels and that he could continuously change his skills, and the way he learned to think has been enormously important to his career.
“I hear people say he is not a Liverpool type of player, but I tell you that he can adapt to any club.”
Making his name in the Jupiler Pro League with Genk and Standard Liege, Benteke’s £7 million move to Aston Villa in 2012 provoked fears by supporters that manager Paul Lambert had unwisely put his faith in a striker without Premier League experience.
But by scoring 42 goals in 89 games for the Villans, Benteke confounded expectation.
Now tasked with another challenge, Benteke is required to adapt to a more demanding environment on Merseyside, and prove that he can utilise the all-round game that Brendan Rodgers requires.
Bruyninckx is confident this won’t be an issue.
“This challenge is not new for him,” he continued.
“For many years, people tried to convince Christian he was only a physical player, but, through his mental power, he has changed all that.
“When you watch him in the national team, you can see that, technically, he is skilled, he is creative, he is intelligent.
“I fully believe that, through Liverpool, he will go to a higher level again.”
Early signs suggest that the 24-year-old can transition comfortably into Rodgers’ Liverpool setup, and though he has cut an isolated figure in attack against Arsenal and West Ham United, he is looking likely to improve as the season progresses.
The way in which he brushed off suggestions from former manager Tim Sherwood that “there’s no point [in him] going to a club where they don’t cross the ball,” was a good start.
Benteke is showing that he has the mental qualities to adapt to life at Liverpool—the challenge now is to translate that into goals.
For that, Liverpool will need to tailor their game more to his qualities.
But, as Bruyninckx suggests, it seems that Benteke is not the primitive centre-forward that many feared Rodgers had signed.