Confirmation of the signing came via Crystal Palace on Saturday:
Crystal Palace F.C. @CPFC
Good morning #CPFC fans! #WelcomeChristian 🔴🔵 https://t.co/0UFjJhguse2016-8-20 09:15:07
The deal brings an early end to the Belgium forward’s spell at Anfield, having joined the club from Aston Villa in the summer of 2015 for £32.5 million. In his debut term with the Merseyside giants, Benteke netted nine goals in 29 Premier League appearances.
When it comes to the forward, it’s not his finishing that saw him marginalised by Reds manager Jurgen Klopp. Benteke was given chances to prove what he can do under the German, but he didn’t show a willingness to make runs into channels or close down opponents, two key qualities Klopp looks for in his strikers.
Liverpool perhaps didn’t play to his strengths, either. During his time at Aston Villa, Benteke thrived when he was the focal point of the attack and crosses regularly came into the penalty area for him to compete for.
The Reds were meticulous in their build-up play under former boss Brendan Rodgers and play an intense style of football under his successor. It means the supply line was never really in place for Benteke to blossom as he has done previously.
As these numbers from WhoScored.com illustrate, in the right kind of structure, the striker can be very effective:
Christian Benteke: Only Olivier Giroud (19) has scored more headed goals in the last 4 PL seasons than @chrisbenteke (16)2016-6-3 16:15:06
Palace will have surely considered that when launching their bid for the player. Manager Alan Pardew is a little more direct in the way he sets his team up, and while it’s not a style of football that’s easy on the eye, Benteke’s track record shows it’s an option worth considering.
With the Eagles, Benteke will surely be a regular starter. Plus with players such as Wilfried Zaha, Andros Townsend, Jason Puncheon and Yohan Cabaye, there will be plenty of dangerous deliveries for him to feed off.
For the player, a fresh start will also be invigorating. Although Liverpool paid big money to land the forward, there was always a sense that things wouldn’t be plain sailing for Benteke on Merseyside.
At Selhurst Park, he’ll be a much more significant member of the squad and will give Palace a physical edge to their attacking play.