Phil Thompson believes Christian Benteke will leave Liverpool this summer.
Benteke, who arrived at Anfield in a £32.5 million deal from Aston Villa last July, has struggled this season and has now slipped behind Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi in the pecking order under Jurgen Klopp.
The Belgium international has failed to make any of Klopp’s previous 12 starting line-ups and has netted just one goal in 16 appearances since the turn of 2016.
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Thompson, the former Liverpool defender who managed the Reds on a caretaker basis during the early 2000s, feels Benteke’s Liverpool career is now all but over.
And the current Sky Sports pundit believes the 25-year-old striker could end up in the Chinese Super League.
Thompson: Benteke needs to leave Liverpool
"You don't need to be an expert or an insider to see that Benteke will be looking to move on in the summer,” Thompson told Sky Sports. “We're all trying to read between the lines and I don't know anything definite but it looks like he's all but gone.
"I would say for the sake of his own career he needs to leave. He's got the Euros coming up and he's going to be sat on the bench with Romelu Lukaku starting and he won't want the same to happen next season.”
Thompson believes that Klopp, who once attempted to sign Benteke for Borussia Dortmund, isn’t playing the Belgian because of his inability to press effectively from the front.
"He can't do the pressing game that Jurgen Klopp demands and you can't have £32.5m strikers sat on the bench playing a bit part,” he continued.
"Danny Ings is coming back as well and he's more suited to doing what Klopp expects, so Benteke could find himself fourth in the pecking order."
Thompson: Benteke could move to China
And on where Benteke could end up next, Thompson added: "Football is stranger than ever but I still think it would be highly unlikely that they'd sell to Everton. I remember back when I was youth team coach we sold Peter Beardsley to Everton and I thought it would come back to bite us, which it did.
"The way the Chinese market is going you'd think that is the most likely source for Liverpool to recoup the fee they spent on him. I'd imagine it will be a similar case for Mario Balotelli."
Rodgers defends the signing of Benteke
It was Brendan Rodgers - with the help of Liverpool’s transfer committee - who signed Benteke last summer.
And in an interview with talkSPORT back in January, the Northern Irish coach defending his decision to sign the powerful striker who never appeared to be suited to Liverpool’s style of play.
“I took him to Liverpool in the summer because we were really short on goals and the one thing he does give you is goals, but obviously it’s going to take him time to get up to the way the team wants to play and Jürgen wants to press,” Rodgers commented.
“I think Jürgen will take his time with him,” he added. “In this country, now, everything is very ‘short-termism’, isn’t it? People look at it like, you’ve got to come in, get 20 goals in your first season or you might be deemed a failure.
“I don’t think Jürgen’s looking at it as that. He tried to sign him for Dortmund. He knows he’s a good player. He met the boy, he met the agent, he met them in Germany, so he knows he’s a good player.”
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