After struggling to produce a strong run of form at Liverpool so far, Christian Benteke will take time to reach his peak, says Jurgen Klopp.
Benteke’s performance in Sunday’s 2-2 draw at home to West Brom was the latest in a string of disappointing efforts from the Belgian following his £32.5 million move from Aston Villa.
But speaking to reporters on Friday afternoon, Klopp painted Benteke as a work in progress, saying he and his backroom staff “have time to work” on his development.
“The situation is if as a striker you feel not confident in the game because you don’t get enough crosses, you have to move more,” he explained.
“You have to feel first that it doesn’t work like this.
“There’s a difference between the way we play and the way Aston Villa played.
“He had this long injury period, so it’s not possible to be at 100 percent.”
“We don’t have too many strikers, but we can decide between [them].
“As a striker you want to have five, six games in a row. At Aston Villa when he was fit he played, and here everything is different.”
While Klopp suggested that Benteke was not his de facto first choice when selecting his starting centre-forward at Liverpool, with both Divock Origi and Roberto Firmino representing useful options of his current crop, the German lauded his efforts.
“I have time to work, he made very good games for us, very good goals for us,” he continued.
“I’m not sure anybody at Aston Villa saw the best Christian Benteke
“He’s young enough to develop, and that’s what we’ll do.”
Klopp clearly believes that Benteke has the potential to thrive at Liverpool, but the Belgian must heed his advice and begin to tailor his game.
The static, aerially dominant Benteke of Villa is no longer acceptable.
At Liverpool, Benteke must work to adapt to the demands of his team-mates, and look to trouble defences with intelligent movement and pressure off the ball.
If he fails to do so, Klopp will not hesitate to replace him with the dynamic Origi or Firmino.