Liverpool sign striker Benteke from Villa
LONDON – Liverpool wrapped up a deal for Christian Benteke on Wednesday, luring the targetman to Anfield on a long-term contract having finally struck a deal to prise the Belgian powerhouse away from Aston Villa.
“The 24-year-old put pen to paper on a long-term contract with the Reds today after successfully completing a medical in London,” Liverpool said on their website (www.liverpoolfc.com), bringing to a close several weeks of negotiations between the clubs.
British media reported last week that the Merseysiders had finally agreed to meet a 32.5 million pounds ($50.75 million)release clause in the striker’s contract, having previously sought and failed to persuade the Midlands club to reduce their asking price.
Benteke becomes Liverpool’s seventh close-season signing and represents the latest effort by manager Brendan Rodgers to recruit some frontline firepower after last season’s struggles in front of goal.
The forward joins Brazil international Roberto Firmino, fellow Belgian Divock Origi and England Under-21 striker Danny Ings, who have all been brought to Anfield with the intention of reinvigorating Liverpool’s attack.
Benteke’s bullish qualities are likely to add an extra dimension to a Liverpool frontline who looked lightweight last season, finding the net just 52 times in the Premier League after plundering 101 in the previous campaign.
Having helped Villa avoid relegation last season, he hopes to have different objectives at his new club.
“I came here to win trophies. I came here to reach some great goals with the team,” he said on the Liverpool website.
“It’s about winning trophies. It’s about doing something in (my) career I can maybe explain to my son or my kids what I did.”
Born in Kinshasa, Zaire, he joined Villa from Belgian club Genk in 2012 and swiftly adapted to life in the Premier League.
He played 100 games for Villa in three seasons, scoring 49 goals and was top scorer last season with 15, including 12 in as many games towards the end of the campaign.
Liverpool boss Rodgers, however, will be aware that some fans will need convincing that Benteke’s talents are a natural fit at Anfield.
The Merseysiders undoubtedly played their best football for many years in the 2013-14 season when their second place finish was built on the more fleet-footed attributes of nimble forwards Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez.
Benteke will have to wait a while before striking up any sort of bond with Sturridge, whose injury woes hampered Liverpool’s efforts last season.
Sturridge will not be fit for the start of the new campaign after having surgery on a thigh injury. – Reuters