Liverpool closing in on £32.5m Christian Benteke..

But does the Aston Villa striker’s goal return justify the transfer fee?

  • Liverpool are set to meet Christian Benteke’s release clause of £32.5m
  • Brendan Rodgers is in desperate need of firepower after sub-par season
  • Benteke has scored five times against Liverpool in the past three seasons
  • Belgian has scored more headed goals in PL than anyone since 2012
  • He has been involved in 43 per cent of Villa’s goals since he joined

Liverpool are edging closer to a deal to bring Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke to Anfield, having triggered the £32.5m release clause in the Belgian striker’s contract.

The club’s hierarchy have placed their faith in the judgement of manager Brendan Rodgers once again despite the disastrous decision to invest £16m in Mario Balotelli 12 months ago.

Rodgers has long admired Benteke and considered making a bid for him last summer before a serious Achilles injury scuppered any possible deal and landed Liverpool with the unreliable Italian instead.

Liverpool are edging closer to signing Aston Villa's Christian Benteke for his release clause fee of £32.5m

Liverpool are edging closer to signing Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke for his release clause fee of £32.5m

Brendan Rodgers acknowledges that Liverpool are in desperate need of more firepower in attack

Brendan Rodgers acknowledges that Liverpool are in desperate need of more firepower in attack

Liverpool were on the receiving end of a Benteke goal in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley last season

Liverpool were on the receiving end of a Benteke goal in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley last season

His admiration is understandable, given that Liverpool have suffered at the hands of Benteke more often than most in his three seasons in the Premier League.

In December 2012, Benteke scored twice in an impressive 3-1 Villa win at Anfield and he followed that up with another goal in the return fixture in Birmingham.

The following season, a header from the Belgium put Villa two-up at Anfield though on this occasion Liverpool were able to fight back for a point.

And most recently, the 24-year-old struck against the Reds at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final, helping them to a 2-1 victory.

Indeed, Liverpool have suffered more than most at the hands of the 24-year-old – against no side has he scored more although he also has five against Sunderland.

One of Benteke’s many qualities is how his height and muscular physique give him the edge in penalty area duels and it comes as no surprise to learn that, since his debut, no player has scored more headed goals in the Premier League than his 13.

Benteke scored twice on his first visit to Anfield with Villa back in December 2012. Villa won the match 3-1

Benteke scored twice on his first visit to Anfield with Villa back in December 2012. Villa won the match 3-1

The big Belgian frontman also scored in the return fixture at Villa Park, but his team were beaten 2-1

The big Belgian frontman also scored in the return fixture at Villa Park, but his team were beaten 2-1

Benteke fires home to bring Villa level at 1-1 during April's FA Cup semi-final with Liverpool

Benteke fires home to bring Villa level at 1-1 during April’s FA Cup semi-final with Liverpool

He scored four in 2012-13, his debut campaign, five the following year (joint-highest with Wilfried Bony, then of Swansea) and four more last season.

Another encouraging sign is the frequency and reliability of Benteke’s goalscoring – again, since his arrival in the Premier League in 2012, only Sergio Aguero (55), Luis Suarez (53) and Robin van Persie (44) have scored more goals than the Belgian (42).

It says everything about Liverpool’s urgent need for firepower that the now-departed captain Steven Gerrard finished last season as their top scorer on 13 goals.

He was followed by Raheem Sterling (11), Philippe Coutinho (8), Jordan Henderson (7) and Adam Lallana (6). Only then do you find a genuine striker – the injury-plagued Daniel Sturridge with five.

In the prolonged absence of the England forward, there was scant back-up: Balotelli scored four times, Rickie Lambert three and Fabio Borini once.

Benteke jumps for joy after scoring the winning goal for Villa against Tottenham at White Hart Lane

Benteke jumps for joy after scoring the winning goal for Villa against Tottenham at White Hart Lane

No player has scored more headed goals in the Premier League since Benteke came over the England

No player has scored more headed goals in the Premier League since Benteke came over the England

The Belgian rifles home a long-range shot in Villa's FA Cup win over Blackpool back in January

The Belgian rifles home a long-range shot in Villa’s FA Cup win over Blackpool back in January

Benteke curls home a free-kick during Villa's win over Queens Park Rangers last season, his third of the game

Benteke curls home a free-kick during Villa’s win over Queens Park Rangers last season, his third of the game

Rodgers knows that a reliable targetman is absolutely essential if they are to mount a challenge for the top four again and Benteke fits the bill nicely.

Villa were similarly threadbare in attack last season, particularly when Paul Lambert was in charge of the goal-shy and relegation-haunted team.

Thank goodness for Benteke, then, who has been involved in 43 per cent of Villa’s Premier League goals since joining (42 scored, eight assists).

It shows that he is capable of carrying a team when necessary, contributing important goals in important games.

Another impressive aspect of the £32.5m man’s play is his capability to score with both feet as well as in the air.

A breakdown of his Villa goals in the league shows 22 on the right foot, seven on the left foot and eight headers.

If Liverpool can close a deal for Benteke in the coming days, Rodgers will certainly take some of that predatory instinct next season.

 

 

 

Source : Daily Mail

 

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