Here’s a piece we wrote today for our friends at LFCXtra, the sister site of lfc.tv, on how Christian Benteke can tactically help Liverpool thrive this season – and why we’ve decided to shell out £32.5m on the Belgian.
The version you’ll read via the link in the opening paragraph has been edited.
Here’s the original:
Christian Benteke’s arrival at Anfield yesterday should have come as a surprise to nobody. Last term, the quartet of recognised centre-forwards notched eight Premier League goals between them, and it was clear that a proven striker would be a summer priority.
Brendan Rodgers opted for the Belgian powerhouse to solve our striking issue. Since arriving in England in 2012, he’s only been outscored by Sergio Aguero, Robin van Persie and former Red Luis Suarez – and it’s the goals we’ve missed since the Uruguayan’s exit that Benteke will ultimately be charged with replacing.
But having agreed to pay his release-clause, it’s crucial that we now do all we can to help the 24-year-old flourish.
Crucially – Benteke is an out and out centre-forward. He doesn’t work the channels, play wide in a 4-3-3, or drop into a creative no.10 role. But that’s a strength of his, and it’ll help Liverpool mould stylistically.
Benteke does not have ‘good feet for a big man’. He has excellent feet for a Premier League striker. And it’s the combination of strength and power with technical prowess that has led Liverpool to put their eggs in Benteke’s basket.
The striker spearheads the 4-3-3 with aplomb. Not only does his physicality and aerial ability enable him to bully defenders when long or crossed balls are delivered – but he acts as a focal point for his team-mates too. From his central starting point, Benteke can make the ball stick before recycling it and moving somewhere else. He can run in behind or create space for himself and shoot. His incomparable power actually clouds the fact that he has all the attributes of a potentially world-class striker.
So in short – Benteke is capable of scoring goals from any type of service, and it’s this which we can offer him.
Under Rodgers we’ve often tried to go through the opposition, but Benteke enables us to go round them as well.
New signing Nathaniel Clyne and Spanish left-back Alberto Moreno love to maraud their respective flanks and whip in crosses – while Jordan Henderson and James Milner can float, zip or drill a longer pass into the box as well as anyone in the league. What’s more, Jordon Ibe is an old-fashioned winger in the sense that he plays on the right and gets to the byline, after which Benteke will be the obvious target.
But our intricacy around the box will remain. Coutinho, Adam Lallana and £29m Brazilian Roberto Firmino have bundles of pizzazz. The playmakers can bounce passes off Benteke, playing one-twos with him and getting in shots, or linking up together with the aim of creating the striker a first-time opportunity.
His presence boosts both the ‘crossers’ and the ‘passers’ – and importantly; makes us offensively less predictable.
Many top European teams deploy a striker of this mould at the top of a 4-3-3. PSG use Ibrahimovic, Chelsea use Costa and Real Madrid use Benzema.
By signing the former Aston Villa man, Rodgers has amplified us physically and increased our creative options in the opposition half.
Battling for a side threatened with relegation, Benteke registered a goal every other game. But he now has an abundance of talent around him, an adoring Kop and European aspirations to help. Let’s hope we’re as good for Benteke as he could be for us.
@Jordan_AC90 – Jordan Chamberlain – Editor of Empire of the Kop