Some speculated that reports Manchester United were preparing to trigger Christian Benteke’s release clause were in fact nothing but a ploy to force Liverpool’s hand. If they were, then they appear to have worked, with reliable reports claiming the Reds are now set to trigger the clause emerging today.
Widespread reports from journalists with ties to the club, led by James Pearce at the Liverpool Echo, claim the club have decided they’re convinced Aston Villa are not going to budge on their insistence the striker isn’t for sale—and that they want Benteke badly enough to pay his full £32.5M release clause to get him.
Transfer Scouting: Christian Benteke
With Christian Benteke’s transfer to Liverpool seeming more a question of when than if, we take a closer look at what the controversial Belgian would bring to the table.
Liverpool had hoped a lower fee could be negotiated, but Benteke’s status as the club’s top target and their desperation to land him was always clear. This put Villa in the driver’s seat. Under other circumstances, they might even have been willing to haggle a little over the price. In this case, they held firm.
Faced with the prospect of waiting until deadline day and still having to trigger the release in full to get him, and faced with reports of interest from rival clubs, and with no viable option in sight, Liverpool have blinked first. Barring something unexpected, Benteke will now become the club’s second most expensive signing.
Comparisons to their most expensive signing, Andy Carroll, will be inevitable, but Benteke is far more skilled than the English target man the club famously blew £35M on as Fernando Torres’ replacement. Still, there are concerns about Benteke’s fit. Yet if Liverpool are spending this much, clearly he is arriving as first choice.
Clearly, for £32.5M, Benteke starts whether or not Daniel Sturridge is fit. Whether he plays on his own up top in Sturridge’s absence or the move signals a regular return to the 4-4-2 diamond is another question, but it’s very, very clear that the Belgian striker isn’t arriving as some kind of a Plan B.
He’s arriving to start. He's arriving to be the man who leads the line for Liverpool week in and week out. And fair or not, for £32.5M, he’d better hit the ground running.
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