Graeme Souness insists Christian Benteke can be highly successful at Liverpool - but only if the striker shows the correct attitude.
Benteke cost the Reds £32.5 million from Aston Villa this summer and arrived at Anfield with a stellar reputation having scored 42 goals from 89 Premier League games at the Birmingham outfit.
The 24-year-old has scored just once in four appearances for Liverpool this season but very much remains Brendan Rodgers' first-choice striker.
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Benteke was substituted at half-time earlier this week during Belgium's 1-0 away victory against Cyprus with De Rode Duivels manager Marc Wilmots criticising the forward for a “half-hearted performance” during his post-match press conference.
Many see Benteke’s role as key if Liverpool are to finish in the top four in the league this season, especially after the struggled to put the ball away last campaign.
And, although Souness believes Benteke has all the attributes to be a star at the Merseyside outfit, the Kop legend stresses the forward must display the right temperament to succeed.
“He has the potential to be an absolute star,” the Scot told Sky Sports.
“If he’s fully fired up and motivated, he could take the Premier League by storm and be a superstar at Liverpool.
“But if you have a Benteke who picks and chooses when he plays well then it might not be good enough. A lot of Liverpool’s success this season will rely on Benteke.”
Liverpool were distinctly toothless in front of goal and tallied up just 52 goals throughout the 2014/15 campaign and their underwhelming effort was one of their downfalls.
After failing to replace Luis Suarez, Brendan Rodgers relied on Mario Balotelli for the early part of the season but the Italian’s incompetence to adapt to Liverpool’s style of play quickly seen him out of the fire-line.
Rodgers used Raheem Sterling as a make-do striker but his finishing wasn’t up to scratch and his performances were effected by off the field transfer negotiations in the closing stages of the season.
Benteke was replaced by Divock Origi for Belgium against Cyprus. Origi joined the Reds last summer from Lille but stayed at the French club for one final season. Having now arrived at Anfield he still awaits his debut for Liverpool but will be ready to step up when given the call.
Danny Ings too joined Liverpool this summer from Burnley on a free transfer. He made an encouraging debut against West Ham United and too could make his mark on the team given a chance.
Manchester United Clash
Following the disappointing 3-0 loss to West Ham prior to the international break, Liverpool will be desperate to get back on the right track this weekend.
They have a tricky task ahead against Manchester United on Saturday at Old Trafford and, with both sides pushing for a top four finish, the result could be pivotal in the outcome of the league come May.
Liverpool versus Manchester United is traditionally a fixture that is played at the highest pace with there being plenty of bad blood between the two North West rivals.
For the past 35 years, the clash has arguably been England’s most attractive game.
Although both team’s are not the same as what they formally were, Souness feels the match surpasses any other fixture during the English football calendar.
“For me this is still the biggest game in English football. You’re made aware of the rivalry between the two cities and not just the football clubs,” the 62-year-old added.
“Going back to when I was a player, we were the No 1 team but they always had very good players, nearly as good as what we had, but for some reason they could never gel as a team. That’s all changed in the last 26 or 27 years.
“My best game against them was my very first one. We were at Anfield and won 3-1, and I scored my first goal for Liverpool that day. We never had an easy game against them, even if we were top of the league and they were fifth or sixth, it was never straightforward.”
The Red Devils holds the bragging rights heading into Saturday’s fixture having done the double over Rodgers’ men last term. United won 3-0 in the corresponding fixture last season and 2-0 at Anfield thanks to Juan Mata double.
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