In the calm before the storm that is the European Championships and light sunny drizzle that is the Copa America, bored journalists or in-the-knows are floating the idea that Conte will bid for Benteke should he be unable to secure the services of Romelu Lukaku: former Chelsea player.
While lazy analysis of the Belgian national team roster has created a narrative where Benteke and Lukaku are the same or substantially similar player, the two are not like-for-like replacements. Conte is no Silvio Berlusconi, so this author doubts he views Benteke as Romelu-lite. That being said, there is value to a physically imposing leader of the line in the premier league, and in that sense - despite their different playing styles - the rumor at least retains some internal logic.
This very need for the break-glass-in-emergency player is a reason Liverpool should think long and hard before getting rid of the powerful Belgian. While it must be acknowledged that Benteke consistently failed to impress and large swaths of the fan base - not to mention the manager himself - found no use for the 25 year-old, he still managed to hit double digits, score a number of winners, and show flashes of what might be possible. To discard the player for a pittance would be a serious mistake; likewise, selling him without a replacement would be playing with fire for the Reds given the potential for injuries and Studge's greater-than-average potential for injuries.
Conte is a savvy Italian through-and-through, and a fine ideological heir to Jose Mourinho. Outside of Benfica in their shock Europa win, one does not out Catenaccio the dynamic midfielder and legendary manager. While some may find the signing tired or, not knowing the manager's background, strange given that he currently manages the Italian national team; make no mistake: the man knows what he is doing.
One of the most brilliant midfielders to grace Serie A from the mid-80's to the mid-aughts, the man knows how to set up a team with precision, employing a defensively solid, explosive 3-5-2 at Juve to deadly effect and winning promotion for Bari and Siena prior to taking over The Old Lady. In 2011-12 Juve went unbeaten, conceding only 20 goals.He promptly ripped off two more Scudettos.
Of any team in the premier league that Liverpool should be wary of selling Benteke, a Chelsea with Conte at the helm is most worrisome. That The Times is reporting this means it might be worth holding our collective breaths and butts and anticipating the inevitable game-winner he scores against us next year in a 1 nil win where we throw ourselves at the perfectly drilled back-line and he scores from an incisive counterattack and a ball released from the right flank 40 yards out.
Addendum: Since I have the unenviable task of replacing LTB and the concurrent demise of Hairspray, feel free to toss a brief request at the end of any comments on a recurring piece y'all might like. While it of course will have to tie-in w/ LFC related tactics or team discussion, happy to hear whether y'all feel like something could use more attention. If I'm gonna don my flip-flocks n socks, might as be for something y'all want to hear about.