Just over 12 months ago, then-Aston Villa centre-forward Christian Benteke’s exit from the doomed Midlanders seemed uncertain, with the likelihood of Liverpool or any other side spending £32.5m on a player with a fine Premier League strike rate, but a poor injury record, no better than middling.
Then-Reds boss Brendan Rodgers and the famed Liverpool transfer committee went for it, despite suspicions that the burly number nine is ill-suited to the Northern Irishman’s preferred style of football, with the whopping price-tag suggesting he’d be first choice.
Benteke lasted just a dozen Premier League fixtures, scoring twice, before succumbing to injury and missing six games, during which time Rodgers was sacked and Jurgen Klopp installed as new Anfield gaffer.
The German tactician gave his unlikely striker a chance, starting him regularly when available, with 20 of Benteke’s 42 Liverpool appearances so far coming in the first XI, and the 25-year-old obliged with eight more goals.
All that being said, if the writing wasn’t on the wall for Benteke when the ‘gegenpresser’ himself walked through the Anfield door, it was long before his second Liverpool injury at the end of March.
By then, the Belgium international hadn’t started any of his side’s past nine Premier League matches, stretching back to the start of January, with Klopp preferring to use a curious mix of number ten-types Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana with since-sold winger Jordon Ibe in mid-February.
If Benteke couldn’t get a game up front during a bona fide striker crisis at Liverpool, when Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Danny Ings were all sidelined, how can he possibly have held his value?
Klopp has claimed that ‘clubs’, apparently Crystal Palace, want Benteke as a ‘present’ and ‘have to make real offers’ if they ‘want a striker from us’.
Speaking of presents, he also let this quote slip, according to the Evening Standard:
‘A few clubs try to gamble but we are not part of the gambling side.’
That’s the same club that wildly overpaid for a striker who neither fits the system he was bought for, nor its replacement.
Liverpool are said to have rebuffed a £25m bid from Palace earlier in the summer. They should look at it again, it seems a fair hit to get rid of all that risk.
The Reds are 9/1 to win the Premier League this season.