With Christian Benteke expected to leave Liverpool this summer, it won’t be long before he is labelled a ‘flop’, the title given to any player who moves on from a club having not quite made the grade expected.
At most clubs now, it seems there are more players called ‘flops’, than successes, and it seems the majority of fans are prepared to add the Belgian to that list.
However, Benteke was not as bad a player for Liverpool as some will try to make out, and could thrive once more at a club like Crystal Palace, who will play to his strengths. He scored 42 in 82 league games for Aston Villa, and could do something similar for the south London club.
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One of last summer’s big-money transfers scored nine goals for the Reds, but most of his appearances came off the bench, or were cut short by him being substituted. In addition, Liverpool do not tend to create chances by crossing the ball, which is his main strength, so considering these two factors, the record is not that bad at all.
Lots of his goals were winners too, or made a difference to the result. His goal against Leicester City around Christmas time in a 1-0 win, for example, and his goal against Palace in a 1-2 victory in March. The goals he scored were not the last goals in a 2-0 or 3-0 victory, but were significant.
Up to March 20, when Liverpool won at Selhurst Park, Benteke had won Liverpool nine points. He then equalised against Chelsea in a 1-1 draw, earning a total of ten points over the course of the league season through his goals. That certainly does not warrant the tag of ‘flop’.
The deal for Benteke involved a £32 million transfer fee, but was financed by Manchester City’s purchase of Raheem Sterling for £49 million earlier in the summer. Compared to Sterling, Benteke seems decent value, and Liverpool will recoup a similar sum to what they paid twelve months ago anyway.
There is, however, no doubt that despite Benteke being better than what most suggest, there will not be any concerns as to how he will be replaced.
This is partly because most of appearances last year came from the substitute bench, so he was not a regular starter. But, more importantly, there is also strength in depth in Liverpool’s front line.
Even if (or when) Daniel Sturridge gets injured, there is still Danny Ings, Divock Origi, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino who can play as strikers.
Benteke was decent, but there are other, better options available to Jurgen Klopp. All of the names listed should be able to at least match his goal output.
It makes perfect sense for Liverpool to sell, and also for Benteke to leave, so he can get regular game time elsewhere, and with other options, he will not be missed by the Anfield outfit.
But what should not be forgotten is that Benteke has proven to be a good player before. He might not have quite made it at Liverpool, but there was a reason the Reds bought him in the first place.
It would be harsh for football fans to label Benteke as a flop during his time at Liverpool. He was never a regular starter, the Reds didn't play to his strengths, and over the course of the season, he did win them some valuable points.
He is a good player, not a flop, but will have to move somewhere else to prove that again. Meanwhile, there are more than adequate replacements to take over.
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