Brendan Rodgers is convinced he has landed a bargain in Christian Benteke, who has joined Liverpool for a fee of £32.5million this summer.
Having gone close to winning a first league title since 1990 when they finished runners-up to Manchester City in 2014, last season the Reds endured a hugely difficult campaign as they ended up in sixth position. The exit of talisman Luis Suarez was a main reason for this decline, as was an injury to his former strike partner Daniel Sturridge who was restricted to just 17 appearances.
And with Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini and the recently sold Rickie Lambert failing to deliver in front of goal, it was natural that Rodgers would look to sign a proven goalscorer this summer. So when it was established that Belgium international Benteke had a £32.5million release clause in his Aston Villa contract, and Anfield club moved to add the 24-year-old to their options last month.
The former Genk forward has spent the past three years in England, scoring 49 goals in 100 appearances in all competitions for the Midlands club 42 of which have come in the Premier League. And whilst some pundits and supporters believe the player was overpriced, Rodgers is convinced Benteke will win over his doubters and prove to be worth every penny the club have paid for him.
“For me, I think he’ll prove to be a bargain for the club. I really do,” he told the official club website. “I’ve read and seen things about his game but in the short period of time he’s been in, I’ve been even more impressed. I’ve seen him up close now for three years, stood at the side of the field and watching this guy – not just his power and strength but also his footballing ability.
“One of the goals I remember he scored against us at Anfield, he ran half-way through the field. This isn’t someone who lacks pace, movement and intelligence. He’s not just a guy who you chuck the ball up to. Of course, his strength allows you to keep the ball, but he’ll really help the unpredictability of our game this season. We know he can play football, and we know he can counter-attack.
“But we also know when we cross the ball, we’ve got a real presence in the box that is going to allow us to keep the ball in the box for periods of time and for others to get goals from. Obviously he doesn’t set the price and I’m thankful the club have brought him in because I really think at 24 years of age, he’s going to be a huge asset for us.”