Liverpool are on the verge of completing a £32.5million move for Aston Villa and Belgium international striker Christian Benteke.
The Reds have met the strikers release clause and completion of the deal seems imminent.
The mooted fee is a big one and Benteke’s signing could be regarded as a gamble by Reds boss Brendan Rodgers, but a new striker is needed after the Reds scored just 52 Premier League goals last season, which was the lowest tally of any of the top seven top-flight teams.
That tally was close to half of the goals scored by the team in the previous campaign, largely explained by the sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona and the fact that Daniel Sturridge spent more time in the treatment room than the Reds physio.
The three stooges of Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini were blunter than a broken pencil in front of goal last season, and it really would not be a surprise to see at least two of the trio exit the club.
The arrival of Danny Ings and Belgian striker Divock Origi has intensified competition for places up front, but neither have been prolific in the past. Origi scored just eight goals in 33 appearances in Ligue One for Lille last season.
Ings enjoyed a decent debut campaign in the Premier League with Burnley, scoring 11 goals in 35 top-flight appearances, despite his team being relegated to the Championship. He may prove to be more prolific in a better team.
Christian Benteke will give the Reds a different dimension to their other new striking arrivals. Ings is an intelligent footballer, while Origi will supply the Reds with pace in abundance.
Benteke is a powerful striker, who is a strong and offers a far more physical presence than the aforementioned pair. The Reds were accused of being one dimensional at one point, so Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers brought in the physical presences of Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli last summer.
It is fair to say that neither have fitted into the Reds style of passing football under Rodgers. That could be were Benteke also fails at Liverpool.
Benteke on his day is unplayable, but for him to find his best form the team has to play to his strengths. Villa found this out last season. Prior to Tim Sherwood’s arrival at the club, Benteke had scored just twice in 16 Premier League appearances.
However, after Sherwood’s arrival the big striker scored 11 goals in just 13 appearances, which is quite a stark contrast to his previous form. It is simple you play to the 24-year-olds strengths and he scores goals.
Unfortunately Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers does not seem very adaptable when it comes to tactics. He seems to stick rigidly to his passing game and his team hardly ever adapts their style of play, even when they are losing.
There is an argument that Benteke could help the Reds become more adaptable, or he could struggle to adapt to the teams style of play like Balotelli and Lambert. To be fair to Lambert he did spend a lot of last season on the Liverpool bench.
Benteke’s goalscoring stats are impressive. The striker has scored 49 goals in 101 appearances his arrival in the Midlands three years ago from Genk. He is also one of just six players to have score at least ten Premier League goals in the last three seasons.
However, those stats mask the fact that his goals tend to come in clumps. He can go on a scoring spree for ten games, then endure a draught and during this time be ineffective for his team. Never the less for a striker of his age he has proved very effective in the English top-flight.
I have sung the praises of Christian Benteke in the past, as I do believe he has all the attributes to be a world-class striker. However, at the moment the fee has to be questioned.
Benteke is a good player with big potential, but he is joining a team that has a very set style of play, which a player of Benteke’s physical power and abilities does not seem to fit into.
Hopefully for Liverpool and the player he will prove a success in the new campaign, or Reds fans may once again be questioning Brendan Rodgers judgement in the transfer market.
Is Christian Benteke the answer to Liverpool’s striking woes?