Crystal Palace are reportedly the sole club to register an interest in signing Liverpool’s Christian Benteke this summer and look the ideal place for the Belgian beast to regain the form that earned his £32m move to Anfield.
The former Aston Villa striker endured a testing first season on Merseyside with his suitability for the Reds’ playing style questioned even prior to the first of two injuries which kept him out for a combined 13 games.
Following the sacking of Brendan Rodgers, the manager who brought Benteke to the club, he started just 14 of a possible 46 matches under successor Jurgen Klopp, who is understood to be unimpressed by the 25-year-old.
It seems that renowned footballing sage and the Belgian’s former boss at Villa Park Tim Sherwood’s observation that his one-time number nine wouldn’t thrive at a club who weren’t focused on getting crosses into the box has come to pass.
Sherwood’s belief that they are the fuel that fires the striker earmark the Eagles as the ideal place for him to rekindle his confidence.
No Premier League team could match the Palace average of 26 such deliveries per game last term.
Meanwhile, only Watford played more long balls than Alan Pardew’s men and Manchester City were the sole squad with more players than the Selhurst Park side’s inside the division’s top 30 for average accurate crosses per game.
An ability to thrive off just such a diet saw the Belgian’s phenomenal rise at Villa, where he scored 49 goals in 101 games despite suffering lengthy injuries in his second and third seasons at the club.
The Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe writes, ‘Benteke has indicated he wants to stay and fight for his place [at Anfield] but his prospects of starting matches are virtually non-existent next season unless Liverpool suffer an injury crisis.’
If that is the case and Palace are willing to stump up the big bucks, then such an alliance could rate a formidable force in 2016/17, when the Eagles are 11/2 for relegation from the top-flight.