Arguably, no transfer has divided the opinion of Liverpool fans as much as this has. Benteke’s move to Anfield will undoubtedly make or mar Rodgers’ reign, with the Irishman clearly making the Belgian his main man. As all football fans agree, Benteke is good striker. His decent return of goals for a lowly team like Aston Villa adds the promise of a better goal return in a team that houses world class players. However, the point of dissent is whether Benteke will fit in with the Red’s style or not. Against this backdrop, TouchlineUI tries to analyze the striker’s strengths and weaknesses along with Liverpool’s needs and style in order to determine, to a degree of probability as nothing can be said with certainty, whether Benteke’s move will be successful.
- Aerial Prowess: Over his last 3 seasons in the Premier League, the 6ft 3inc striker has scored 14 headed goals. That is the highest during that period in the premier league. Furthermore, in his 29 premier league games last season, he won a total of 188 headers. This in itself doesn’t look outrageous until you compare it with the second player on that log, Graziano Pelle, who had 177 headers in more games.
- Premier League Experience: With Benteke’s last 3 seasons spent in the English top flight, there are no worries as to whether he would adapt or not.
- Hold-up play: When you have the likes of Coutinho, Lallana and Firmino in your team, you wouldn’t mind a striker that holds play and brings them in through flicks.
- Composure: A football fan recently joked that Raheem Sterling is not even able to ‘finish’ his dinner. Well, you simply cannot crack that sort of joke when Benteke is involved. He is one man you do not want in your box at all.
- Injury Prone: Benteke has a history of niggling injury problems. This has no doubt had an effect on his goal return ratio over the years. With Sturridge constantly visiting the doctor, it is understandable if the Reds are wary of another injury prone addition.
- Dribbling: Simply, he is not the dribbler. He is better off being fed with the ball in the box than expecting him to dribble himself into a scoring position, although, you can expect him to force his way through.
- High Press: One of the several points made against Balotelli last season was his reluctance to pressure defenders. He was labeled ‘lazy’. However, he managed an average of 2.68 defensive contributions per match, and Benteke is way off at 1.12. Rodgers is known to favour a high pressing attacking style, it remains to be seen if Benteke will fit in.
- Since the departure of Suarez and Sturridge recovering more often than playing, Liverpool suffered severely in front of goal. It is evidenced in Gerrard being the club’s highest goal scorer last season. Sterling was even deployed as a false nine! Liverpool needs a prolific goal scorer and Benteke, with 49 goals in his 101 matches for a team like Aston Villa, is a good bargain.
- Rodgers is known for playing a fast paced, counter-attacking style. He wants mobile strikers that move all round the pitch and stretch opposition defenders, creating space for the attacking midfielders. While Benteke is not a snail, pace is not a strong point for him. He is more mobile than Carroll but it remains to be seen if he is fast enough. In Carroll, Balotelli, Aspas, Lambert, to name a few, Liverpool has had its own fair share of flops; hopefully, Big Ben won’t be added to that list.
- For all its needs, Liverpool can hardly attract a better striker without the lure of Champions League football.
- Certainly, Benteke adds a different dimension to the Red’s attack. But with Liverpool having the lowest crosses made by a team in the premier league last season, Rodgers must make certain tweaks to his playing philosophy if he is to get the best out of his marquee signing.. This is not to say Benteke has no other strengths to his game but his aerial prowess is something Rodgers must exploit constantly and any of his usual stubbornness might just cost him more than 32.5 million!
Welcome to Liverpool Christian Benteke! YNWA