When the Chinese Super League started throwing around money this January, splashing out £38M for Alex Teixeira, £32M for Jackson Martinez, £25M for Ramires and, when it was all said and done, spending more than the Premier League, a few Liverpool fans wondered why not Christian Benteke?
According to a slew of rumours today, at least one CSL club thought the same thing and made a bid for the big striker. Liverpool were even ready to accept the unspecified offer, but reportedly the player rejected the idea of a move to China out of hand despite the fact it would have brought with it a significant raise in his pay.
Some will be disappointed, but it’s hardly a surprise. Benteke is still only 25 years old and fully established in one of Europe’s top leagues. He gets paid well and is well positioned to compete for glory at the international level. Leaving for China for a payday would likely mean giving up his place in the Belgian set up.
So far, the big purchases made by the CSL have been for older or second-tier players; players on the fringes of their national teams and either on the fringes of their own club team, too, or in one of Europe’s lesser rated leagues. For those sorts of players, the promise of a massive payday can certainly look massively appealing.
Benteke is younger, and while he is now on the fringes at Liverpool, he has only been stuck there for a few months. He will be hoping to turn things around before the end of the season and, if he can’t, will be hoping another English club will appear to give him both the money and playing time he’s after.
Turning things around at Liverpool, though, looks increasingly unlikely. His last start—and his only start in the month of February—came against West Ham in the FA Cup. Aside from that, in the past month Benteke has come off the bench twice to play 40 minutes and been left on it as an unused substitute on two occasions.
He appears solidly behind not just Daniel Sturridge but also youngster Divock Origi and midfielder Roberto Firmino amongst striking options. It seems likeliest that, if an acceptable suitor can be found, Benteke will be moving on this summer. It just isn’t likely that acceptable suitor will be in the Chinese super League.