It was a rather poorly kept secret in football that one of Liverpool’s top priorities over the recently concluded transfer window was to find a new home - at the right price - for striker Christian Benteke, whom Liverpool prised from Aston Villa in 2015 for a princely £32.5 million. Though far from an abject failure in terms of goalscoring output, Benteke cut an increasingly forlorn figure up front once Jürgen Klopp took over from Brendan Rodgers in late 2015, and it was clear that Liverpool had a very expensive square peg/round hole situation on their hands.
Though there were some grumblings from the player about the manner in which he was used by Klopp, there was virtually no drama to speak of when Benteke finalized his move to Crystal Palace this past summer, and it looked like this would be a rare win-win-win situation for all parties involved. Liverpool were able to recoup an impressive portion of their earlier expenditure, Palace found their high profile target man, and Benteke has a chance to thrive in a system more suited to his gifts.
Now part of the Alan Pardew Project, Benteke has an important role as Palace’s Eye in The Sky, and having opened his account with his new club, will be hoping to re-establish himself in London as one of the more feared strikers in the league. Reflecting on his Liverpool sojourn with Sky Sports, Benteke - to his credit - didn’t say any words he was going to regret, and didn’t let the fire rush to his head. On the contrary, the Belgian international was exceedingly classy and almost sanguine about his time at Anfield:
“It was an honor to play for Liverpool, such a big club with such a big history. I didn't play or perform as I wanted. It was my decision to go there and I don't regret anything.
I didn't have the chances to perform. I learned that's football. That is why I have no anger against anyone there. [The] frustration is at myself that in the short time I had to play I didn't do it as I wanted. Brendan [Rodgers] did everything for me to come there, then I had my injury and I couldn't help. I wanted to do more.”
It was an unfortunate confluence of circumstances, and an expensive gamble that didn’t work out. Liverpool will welcome Crystal Palace to Anfield in April of next year, so let’s hope that both the Merseyside club and their former player have more reasons to look forward rather than back at that point, and that supporters remember his departure as one that was free of rancor or regret.