Christian Benteke’s move to Anfield has moved a step closer to completion after Liverpool inevitably caved on Aston Villa’s demand for the Belgians £32.5 million release clause to be paid in full. Manchester United are reported to be interested in the powerful frontman as well but are less compliant when it comes to the fee in question. The player’s preference appears to be for the red of Liverpool rather than United. But should he be careful what he wishes for or will he fit straight into life on Merseyside?
As Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood pointed out Liverpool currently have 6 first team strikers on their squad list, 3 of which seem destined for exits. Mario Balotteli, Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert have all failed to force their way into the starting 11 and have more often than not failed to make the match-day squad. If any offer’s come in to take the three Brendan Rodgers will pack their bags himself to get them through the Anfield exit door.
Assuming all three leave, Rodgers will be left with Daniel Sturridge (when back to full fitness), new signings Divock Origi and Danny Ings, and possibly fellow newcomer Roberto Firmino to choose from in the striker department. The Liverpool manager’s preference for playing with one striker poses a question for Benteke. He may face some bench time if Sturridge can find his form when he returns from his latest injury lay-off, So will he be an automatic starter for the long term?
Rodgers acquisitions so far have shown a shrewder plan than his previous summer transfer windows at Liverpool, every first team player brought so far is filling a position they are short in. Milner will help fill the void left by Steven Gerrard in midfield, Nathaniel Clyne will slot in at right back in place of Glen Johnson, Roberto Firmino will plug the hole Raheem Sterling has left (whether that be on either wing or as a false 9) and Adam Bogdan is a marked improvement on back up goalkeeper Brad Jones.
Ings and Origi are 22 and 20 years old respectively, both will need time to adjust to Liverpool for different reasons. Origi is coming from France and will need to get up to speed with the pace of Premier League football and Ings only has one season of top flight experience under his belt so he too will need to earn his stripes. This seems to indicate that Brendan Rodgers intends to play Benteke from the off, otherwise Liverpool wouldn’t be meeting such a high release clause. For the Aston Villa striker regular playing time must be partly what is pulling him towards Anfield rather than Old Trafford. He has shown with 49 goals in 101 appearances for Villa that he is already acclimatised to the Premier League, and is ready for the step up to a ‘big team.’ (No offence Villa fans.)