Can Christian Benteke be the signing that rebuilds Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool career?

Posted by

Our defeat to Stoke City on the final day of the Premier League season may suggest that improving our defence is the mantra with which Brendan Rodgers needs to live by this summer.

Liverpool Goals and Highlights
Liverpool summer transfers: How the six-man crop of 2015 will surpass those from 2014
Liverpool must pay £15m to secure Nathaniel Clyne deal, claims report

However, going into the game at the Britannia, Simon Mignolet was a contender for the golden glove. Our problems were really rooted on what was going on at the other end of the pitch.

Unfortunately however, the same could also be said as we headed into this campaign. We lost Luis Suarez, and tried to replace him with quantity rather than quality, well aware that Daniel Sturridge was susceptible to spending time injured.

Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert, and Fabio Borini became the men that Rodgers could turn to. However, none were able to grasp the opportunity, and now find their Liverpool futures in the balance (via the Daily Mirror).

With the manager’s own job looking precarious (via the Daily Mail), it is now up to him to identify the targets that are going to take us back to where we were 12 months ago: battling for the Premier League title, and certainties for a place in the Champions League.

One such player that the Northern Irishman is reportedly ready to turn to, is Aston Villa star Christian Benteke (via Liverpool Echo). But, would he actually be the kind of signing that will bring Brendan back from the brink?

The Liverpool Echo report that it could cost £32.5m to bring the Belgian to Anfield. The startling transfer fee means that the 24-year-old would be under a whole new kind of pressure.

Meanwhile, the prospect of playing for a team craving European football could have a similar effect to that is has had on Lambert, for example, who has struggled to remain the marksman that led Southampton through the divisions and turned them into a comfortable Premier League side.

However, Benteke has proved that he is able to thrive when the heat is on this season. At the end of February, the Villains were in the bottom three, and had taken just three points out of a possible 36 since their victory over Leicester at the beginning of December.

Since then, the former Genk man has scored 12 in his last 12 matches in all competitions, driving them towards safety, and – painfully – leading them to an FA Cup final. This is a man that can shine when pressure beams down.

His tremendous power means he can summon a vicious strike from just about anywhere. And his physicality has allowed for Villa’s midfielders to launch the ball into the box in desperation, safe in the knowledge that Benteke will probably win any aerial duel, and subsequently send a header towards the goal.

That versatility – with the ability to play equally effectively on the ground or in the air – means that we could be able to change our style should the situation require it.

We will get goals from him, but there are certainly reasons that the alarm bells should be ringing, as other aspects of his game are evident in the strikers we already have.

Firstly, his injury record since his move to Villa Park means that for £32.5m, we should also be entitled to all the bubble wrap and cotton wool that the club have saved in preparation for his latest breakdown.

At such a pivotal moment in Brendan Rodgers’ reign at the club, it would represent a monumental risk to spend such a fee on a player that could spend as much time on the pitch as Daniel Sturridge did this year.

And while his playing style – when fit – has suited Villa in their battle to beat the drop, it does bare similarities to that of Lambert. His power in the air was matched by his talent with his feet while at St Mary’s. He could score headers, volleys, penalties, free-kicks, and yet, when he moved to Anfield, he proved that he was just not cut out for a side where he is not the talisman.

If given a consistent run in the side, that included plenty of starts, then the England striker may have given us 10 goals, which is a great return for someone who cost practically an eighth of what Benteke would cost. But the situation with the Belgian is very different.

Having never played for one of the sides battling for the top places in any of Europe’s major leagues, signing Benteke would be a risk that could define Brendan Rodgers’ time as Liverpool boss.

If he is able to put his injury issues aside, and is given time to prove value for money, then we could be talking about one of the most important players of the post-Gerrard era at Anfield. However, ‘if’ is the kind of word in football that means time is of the essence. Benteke needs to hit the ground running, and not look back.

More Stories Christian Benteke