The transfer window is done, closed, shut. Squads are set and now we pick through a summer of changes before the football kicks off again. And for Liverpool, in Jürgen Klopp’s first summer in charge, as important as some of those incoming changes were, the outgoings matter just as much.
On that front, one departure stands out. That of Christian Benteke, the striker who arrived only a year ago as the club’s second most expensive signing ever. Twelve largely disappointing months later, he’s gone again. Yet the striker insists that his time at the club wasn’t a failure or a waste.
“I don’t see my time there as a failure,” said Benteke, who played his first minutes for his new club, Crystal Palace, over the past weekend. “When I signed there was another coach, and with him it might have turned out differently. I did not fit the tactical system of the new coach.”
Whether Benteke was a good fit for previous manager Brendan Rodgers is a question many fans asked at the time. What was clear, though, was that he was Rodgers’ choice. Liverpool’s manager had been given one last chance to make things work, and he said he needed Benteke to do that.
The club, for better or worse, backed him. And when early returns failed to convince, his struggles—struggles many predicted while his £32.5M transfer was still in the works—pushed Rodgers closer to the exit. When the manager was replaced by Klopp, Benteke’s exit seemed only a matter of time.
“That was not easy mentally, because I was left to fight a losing battle,” added the ex-Liverpool and Aston Villa striker as he reflected on his time at Anfield. “But I must not look for excuses. I could also have done better in those few minutes I got. I have not performed as expected.
“[Klopp] had a system and I did not fit. It was up to me to find a solution. These are things that happen in a career. There are no regrets. Crystal Palace is a good step for me. I am now on a team that might not have the same ambitions, but I can play well. I really want to show what I can do.”
Benteke’s Liverpool move always seemed likely to end badly. He cost too much and never seemed a fit for a side that wanted—or that at the very least the fans wanted—to play a free-flowing attacking brand of football. Yet Benteke was an easy player to root for; to want to see succeed.
Hopefully, with Crystal Palace, he is once again in a position where he can do that. At least in the 36 games each year when Palace aren’t facing off against Liverpool.