Five summer destinations for Liverpool misfit Christian Benteke
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | March 25, 2016
Christian Benteke’s big money move to Liverpool from Aston Villa this summer couldn’t be called a roaring success, and it appears the Belgium frontman isn’t happy either…
“When your coach says he wanted to take you to [Borussia] Dortmund and a little later you sit at the same club and he ignores you it is hard to understand,” Benteke recently told a magazine in his homeland.
Although brought to Anfield while Brendan Rodgers was still in charge, he was replaced in the hotseat by Jurgen Klopp. The Reds’ change of boss hasn’t helped Benteke much, however, as he has struck just eight times in 35 outings across all competitions.
“Some teammates said that I was lucky with the arrival of Klopp because I certainly would play,” he added, but Daniel Sturridge’s return to fitness has seen Benteke benched, though the Belgian maintains he wants to fight for his place.
“In January I didn’t want to leave and it’s still my desire to succeed at Liverpool,” he continued. With regard to Benteke’s long-term future, however, he added: “We’ll see at the end of the season.”
Bearing that in mind, and considering Coral go odds-on at 5/6 that he leaves Merseyside this summer, our football experts look at potential destinations for Benteke…
West Ham United
While the Hammers are only set to lose on-loan duo Emmanuel Emenike and Victor Moses from their attacking options at the end of the season, Slaven Bilic’s side need a marquee signing to accompany their move from Upton Park to the Olympic Stadium.
Benteke fits the bill, and West Ham are rated most likely at 4/1 to be his next club. Walking straight into their first XI, however, will be no mean feat.
The Hammers’ attacking ensemble of Ecuador forward Enner Valencia, Senegal striker Diafra Sakho, France creator Dimitri Payet, England target man Andy Carroll and uncapped winger Michail Antonio are doing their level best to steer the team into Europe.
Competition is clearly fierce, with temporary acquisitions Emenike and Moses to also factor in – should West Ham chief trio David Gold, Karen Brady and David Sullivan pay out to sign both or either permanently.
Should Spurs catch Premier League leaders Leicester City during the run-in, then Benteke could alternatively join a team that are champions and is 6/1 to do so.
Tottenham cannot continue to rely so heavily on star striker Harry Kane alone, and their need for a proper centre forward is greater than all other English rivals holding hopes of Champions League football for next term.
Kane is more mobile than Benteke, so they could even be potentially paired together in the White Hart Lane attack. His arrival must not disrupt the development of a homegrown core under Mauricio Pochettino, though.
Shrewd Spurs chairman Daniel Levy may smell a bargain price here if Liverpool are keen to offload, and that makes Benteke a more alluring proposition than paying over the odds for apparent long-term Tottenham target Saido Berahino.
Across London at Stamford Bridge, meanwhile, a major overhaul of personnel is on the cards. Antonio Conte is highly likely to be the next Blues boss, and has a clear preference for big strikers leading the attack of teams he’s coached so far.
Even names like Spain duo Diego Costa and Pedro Rodriguez from Chelsea’s expensively assembled squad cannot be sure of their long-term futures.
South American loan pair Radamel Falcao and Alexandre Pato will be out the door this summer, and Loic Remy needs to leave in search of first-team football.
Benteke may find the Blues more to his liking than Liverpool, and the capital club – where expectations may be somewhat revised, despite ruthless owner Roman Abramovich’s naked ambition – are 7/1 to snap the striker up.
Away from the Premier League, it is very hard to see Napoli keeping hold of star striker Gonzalo Higuain after a prolific campaign. Whether that yields Serie A silverware remains to be seen…
Argentina international Higuain will be in high demand this summer, and scooping the Scudetto will almost certainly be the zenith of his time in Naples.
More than the odd player has traded Premier League football for a stint in Italy at Napoli recently; most notably former Swansea City stars Jonathan De Guzman and Michu, plus ex-Tottenham defender Vlad Chiriches.
It’s a long 16/1 shot that Benteke follows suit, but compatriot Dries Mertens may entice his fellow Belgium international to the Neapolitan team.
Having fired the Parc des Princes outfit to yet another Ligue 1 title, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to leave Paris this summer.
However PSG get on in the Champions League, the French capital club’s wealthy Middle Eastern owners will want a marquee signing to soften the blow of the Sweden superstar’s departure.
This Parisian team has a past penchant for recruiting physical strikers, just ask Portugal all-time top scorer Pauleta and former Chelsea frontman Mateja Kezman.
Benteke would have big boots to fill at PSG, where he is 20/1 to go next, but this mega-rich club could easily afford splashes for both him and fellow countryman Eden Hazard, who is admittedly more of a likely top target.
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