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Christian Benteke is a risk worth taking for Liverpool

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You could forgive Liverpool fans for being skeptical over any future signings after the worrying record that manager Brendan Rodgers has in the transfer market.

Hundreds of millions have been spent for only little reward. However, Rodgers' next big signing, Christian Benteke, could prove to be an astute addition, provided he is used correctly. 

The £32.5 million fee that Liverpool have paid for the Belgian is certainly risky. Yet this is a man who could give Liverpool something different up front to go with the creativity behind him.

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It is Benteke's late season form that rekindled Liverpool's interest in him. The Belgian scored 12 goals in his last 13 games, prompting  Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood to label him 'unplayable'.

Indeed, it was Sherwood who reignited a struggling Benteke, who scored only two goals in 16 league appearances before the former Tottenham manager's arrival.

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Using him properly

Sherwood soon realised that he had to use his main man properly. 

“We cross more balls into the box than any other club in the league and Christian has said that he feeds off crosses,” said Sherwood before of the FA Cup final.

“There’s no point going to a club where they don’t cross the ball.”

Sherwood clearly thinks the world of Benteke, but what is it that has attracted Rodgers to activate such a large buy out clause?

Aerial presence

One thing that can't be in doubt when analysing Benteke is his physical and aerial presence. Last season he won 188 duels in the air - more than any other Premier League striker. Compare that with the combined effort of just 58 from Liverpool's strikers in 2014/15, and it's easy to see that Benteke is the opposite to what the club have up front when it comes to style. 

Whether Rodgers is ready to change his philosophy in order to suit Benteke's style remains to be seen. No Premier League team made fewer open-play crosses than Liverpool in 2014/15 (409) and, as we all know, the former Swansea manager is a big believer is the passing game.

Rodgers even sacrificed the potential success of £35 million man Andy Carroll in order implement his own style at Anfield.

"Andy wasn't let go from here because he wasn't good enough - I'll state that first and foremost," said Rodgers. 

"When I came in here, everyone knew the way I worked and it was never to say Andy couldn't work that way, but we had other certain financial aspects of the football club we had to look at."

Change of style

The fact that Rodgers has spent so much money suggests a potential change in style. It is clear that Benteke's game revolves around support play and crosses in the box, it therefore seems that Rodgers could be willing to improve on producing more crosses from open play this season.

However, despite encouraging quality of attacking midfielders, such as Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho and new signing Roberto Firmino, the lack of a quality winger after the departure of Raheem Sterling is a concern if Liverpool are to compromise to suit Benteke's style of play.

Jordan Ibe is likely to have a more important role for Liverpool in 2015/16, but adding another wide man could still be on Rodgers' agenda for the rest of the summer.

Upgrade

Whether they will have to compromise or not, Benteke will certainly be an upgrade on what Liverpool currently have. Daniel Sturridge continues to have injury problems, while the other three forwards, Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini scored just eight goals between them in all competitions last campaign.

For all the creativity Liverpool possess, they may well need someone to put the ball in the back of the net and Benteke could well be the man to do that. 

His brute force and aerial prowess are both well known, but Benteke's finishing is something that has developed significantly since Aston Villa bought him as a raw 21-year-old.

He proved that he belonged in the Premier League with a superb 19 goal return in his debut season in England. Not only that, during the 2014/15 season, the big Belgian was one of only three players to score at least two goals from inside and outside the box, with either foot and with his head.

In addition Benteke's tally of 42 goals in 89 league appearances since his arrival at Villa in 2012, bettered only by Robin van Persie (44), Luis Suarez (53) and Sergio Aguero (55).

Benteke's talent is undisputed, yet the virtually extortionate fee that Liverpool have paid for him makes his transfer a gamble. A change of style might be in order but it will take time to find out whether the striker is worth all the money and all the hype.

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Topics:
Christian Benteke
Liverpool
Premier League
Football

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