Christian Benteke hasn’t even stepped on the field for Liverpool yet, and the 24-year-old Belgian striker has come under heavy criticism from a club legend over his $50-million transfer from Aston Villa this summer.
[ MORE: Thursday’s transfer rumor roundup ]
Jamie Carragher, who writes a column for the Daily Mail these days, is more than a little bit wary of not only Benteke’s price tag, but his ability to fit into and adapt to Brendan Rodgers’ “short, sharp and incisive” style of passing and play. Benteke, who stands 6-foot-3 and is listed at 185 pounds, isn’t commonly thought to be an on-ball technician capable of “[playing] through teams,” but is instead a target man who feasts on service from wide areas.
Carragher, on Benteke’s Liverpool prospects, from the Daily Mail:
So while we’ve been impressed by how Benteke has torn teams apart — Liverpool, against whom he scored five goals in six games, have really suffered — we also know when his touch has been poor and his lack of interest has been apparent. He can be devastating and infuriating in equal measure.
The hope at Liverpool is that surrounding him with better players will see him become even more devastating and consistent. I like him as a striker and actually think he would be great for Chelsea. Jose Mourinho likes that profile of forward and sets his teams up to get the best out of them.
Parallels have already been drawn with Andy Carroll and people have pointed out that Rodgers wasted no time in getting rid of him but that decision had nothing to do with the fact that Carroll was a big man. It was purely down to him lacking pace and movement.
As Carragher notes in his column, only Sergio Aguero (55), Luis Suarez (53) and Robin van Persie (44) have scored more Premier League goals than Benteke since he came to England at the start of the 2012-13 season. There’s no question whether or not he’s a capable goalscorer, but every player has “the right system” into which he fits best.
Whether or not Benteke can even fit into Rodgers’ system is a completely fair question to ask — and a fair criticism to levy against Rodgers’ and Liverpool’s transfer dealings. Mario Balotelli, another not-so-fleet-of-foot striker against whom Benteke will now be competing for minutes, struggled mightily to adapt last year in his debut season at Anfield.
While Benteke might not be the perfect fit to Rodgers’ system, no team anywhere in the world has ever had “too many” different options and tactical ways of approaching the game — something from which last year’s Liverpool could have undoubtedly benefited.