Last season was a frustrating one for Belgium international striker Christian Benteke.
The 25-year-old had made a big-money move from Aston Villa in the summer of 2015 but struggled for game time at Anfield after Reds boss Brendan Rodgers was replaced by Jurgen Klopp in October.
The striker made 29 Premier League appearances for the Reds last season.
However, 15 of those were from the substitute’s bench. Benteke still managed to score nine goals and produce three assists for the side from Merseyside, despite his limited game time.
Mersey misery ended this summer
This summer, Benteke’s stay on Merseyside came to an end when he joined Crystal Palace for a fee in the region of £30million. There was never a doubt that he would get more first-team football at Selhurst Park and would once again be a key player for his team.
For the striker, it was a move he needed. Benteke was prolific in his three seasons at Aston Villa, as the Villans played to his strengths. If teams do that, then the 25-year-old will score goals it is as simple as that.
Benteke was never going to adapt to Jurgen Klopp’s style of play at Liverpool. The German demands work-rate, flexibility and mobility from his forwards, none of those attributes are in Benteke’s armoury.
He is more of an old-fashioned centre-forward. His main attributes are his physical presence, aerial ability and his strength. There are very few strikers in the English top-flight who are harder to handle than Benteke on his day.
His career is back on track at Palace
Alan Pardew has been developing a promising team at Palace. However, the Eagles have been missing a prolific forward up top. In Benteke they have the perfect player for their style of play.
Pardew likes to play with wide players who whip crosses into the box. The likes of Wilfried Zaha, Andros Townsend and Jason Puncheon are capable of creating chances, but the Eagles have not had a striker capable of capitalising on those chances until now.
The big striker has scored three times in his five Premier League appearances for the Eagles since his move. His scoring run has coincided with his team’s improvement in form. Positive results breed confidence and Benteke has helped his team to a number of positive results since his move.
The striker is back on scoring form for club and on Monday night for his country as well, as the striker struck a hat-trick in a 6-0 mauling of minnows Gibraltar. That hat-trick included the fastest ever goal scored in World Cup qualifying timed at just 8.1 seconds.
It seems all Benteke needed to score goals was some time on the pitch. For most observers of the striker over the years that was probably obvious. If he is in the right team, with the right service he is a very dangerous striker.
Ambitious at Palace
It would be hard to argue with the fact that Benteke has taken a step back in his career. A move from Liverpool to Palace will probably always be a step-down, just on the size of the two clubs and the likelihood of success in the near future.
Crystal Palace are now an ambitious club. The Eagles managed to snap up Benteke and Townsend, two very good players in the summer, with the sale of winger Yannick Bolasie basically paying for the signing of former.
With Benteke in their attack, Crystal Palace look like a far more potent attacking unit. He is a striker who is a natural born goalscorer. The Eagles started the campaign off in unconvincing fashion, but they now sit eighth in the Premier League table.
The arrival of Benteke has certainly increased expectations among the Eagles fans. Pardew’s team are now odds of 11/10 to finish in the Premier League top-ten this season. With Benteke on board, that is not an unrealistic aim for the Eagles.
Christian Benteke has got back to what he does best, scoring goals, and you can be sure there are lots more goals to come this season from the Belgium international.
Is Christian Benteke and Crystal Palace the perfect fit?