According to rampant speculation, Liverpool will show £32m striker Christian Benteke the door this summer.
The Reds are allegedly so eager to relieve themselves of the Belgian behemoth that they will not only take a hit on the astronomical fee they forked out for him less than a year ago but, if reports are to be believed, they’ll also allow him to join a direct competitor for a top-four finish, with West Ham United oft cited as the club heading the pursuit for his signature.
Deployed almost exclusively in a reserve capacity since Jurgen Klopp’s Anfield arrival, Benteke has been forced to spectate on several occasions this season as rookie compatriot Divock Origi, or attacking-midfielder-by-trade Roberto Firmino led the Liverpool line.
However, since the former suffered an ankle injury last month, the ex-Aston Villa frontman has found himself closer to the first-team fray. Indeed, he was unleashed from the bench to score the last-gasp equaliser that salvaged his side a point against Chelsea last time out.
It was the 25-year-old’s ninth Premier League goal of a campaign where he has been afforded a mere 13 starts. In addition to this, three more Liverpool strikes have been laid on by the boot of the Belgium international.
Incredibly given the peripheral part he has played, his late leveller against Chelsea was the sixth instance this term where the striker has won the Reds top-tier points. Were his contribution subtracted, Klopp’s troops would be ten points worse off and clinging on to a top-half spot heading into the season’s final day, instead of scrapping for continental qualification.
Based on this evidence, Benteke’s maiden (and, quite possibly, only) season on Merseyside perhaps hasn’t been as big a flop as it has been portrayed to be.
His goalscoring stats are comparable to all of his colleagues, yet his opportunities have been subject to the severest limitations. Yet, if Klopp’s refusal to pick him is perplexing, then the German’s perceived desperation to sell him borders on the insane.
The risk involved with replacing seasoned Premier League net-bulger Benteke with an import from abroad is substantial, while Liverpool don’t have the pulling power to recruit guaranteed goalsmiths from their rivals in the top-flight’s upper echelons.
Sacrificing such a talented forward is a gamble in itself, but the danger involved in making it is intensified by the prospect of him scoring freely for one of the sides the Reds will be battling for Champions League qualification next term.
Benteke is 11/10 to notch at any time when Liverpool play West Bromwich Albion this weekend, a goal which would see him hit double figures for the fourth league season in a row.