Christian Benteke will soon be Liverpool’s fourth-choice striker and needs to leave the club at the end of the season, according to Phil Thompson.
The Belgium striker joined the Reds from Aston Villa for a reported fee of £32.5 million last August, but has started only 12 of his 25 Premier League appearances, scoring seven times.
Thompson – who won three European Cups as a player with Liverpool as well as later serving as assistant manager and caretaker boss – does not think Benteke is suited to manager Jurgen Klopp’s system and suggested the 25-year-old could move to China as Liverpool attempt to recoup the large outlay.
“You don’t need to be an expert or an insider to see that Benteke will be looking to move on in the summer,” Thompson told Sky Sports.
“We are all trying to read between the lines and I don’t know anything definite but it looks like he’s all but gone.
“I would say for the sake of his own career he needs to leave. He’s got the Euros coming up and he’s going to be sat on the bench with Romelu Lukaku starting and he won’t want the same to happen next season.
“He can’t do the pressing game that Jurgen Klopp demands and you can’t have £32.5m strikers sat on the bench playing a bit part.
“Danny Ings is coming back as well and he’s more suited to doing what Klopp expects, so Benteke could find himself fourth in the pecking order.
“The way the Chinese market is going you would think that is the most likely source for Liverpool to recoup the fee they spent on him. I would imagine it will be a similar case for Mario Balotelli.”
Thompson, though, rejected the idea Liverpool could sell Benteke to rivals Everton, should the Goodison Park club lose Lukaku.
He continued: “Football is stranger than ever but I still think it would be highly unlikely that they would sell to Everton.
“I remember back when I was youth team coach we sold Peter Beardsley to Everton and I thought it would come back to bite us, which it did.”
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