Most Liverpool fans have already begun to move on from Christian Benteke, last summer’s £32.5M signing who looked out of place from day one under Brendan Rodgers and only fell further down the pecking order once Jürgen Klopp took over.
A return to full fitness this week combined with the recent injury to Divock Origi, though, could be the lifeline the big striker needs, and Benteke has flown with the squad today as they head to Spain to take on Villarreal in the Europa League. A spot on the bench tomorrow at least seems likely.
Having fallen well behind not just Daniel Sturridge but also Origi and versatile attacker Roberto Firmino, and with Danny Ings set to return to training ahead of pre-season for the 2016-17 campaign, there still seems little room for Benteke at Liverpool moving forward.
Still, stranger things have happened, and with at least six games left to go in the season he will get his chances to prove the doubters wrong. Score a few goals, press hard, and generally begin to look as though he can be a fit with the rest of the squad and there might still be a place for him.
It’s that last bit, though, his fit with the rest of the squad, that seems the biggest issue. Benteke’s goal return at Liverpool hasn’t been terrible. He’s managed eight goals and five assists in 35 games, but in the league those goals have come at a rate of one every 183 minutes on the pitch.
That’s a return that’s far from exciting, especially for a striker who cost more than £30M, but taking cost out of it, a goal roughly every two games he’s on the pitch isn’t a terrible return. The bigger problem so far has been that whenever Benteke is on the pitch it looks like nobody else will score.
If he was linking up well with his teammates, showing good movement and pressing hard from the front, most would be able to accept a slightly below average goal return. But that’s not been the case, and whenever Benteke plays, Liverpool’s entire attack appears to grind to a halt.
In recent months, Benteke has been linked with a move to either West Ham or West Brom in England. He has also been linked with a Juventus move, which if true would likely be about the best summer transfer he could hope for if his days at Liverpool are indeed numbered.