There was a striker, a Belgian striker…

Written by Sam Hopkinson

At the tail end of last season, Benteke started to look the player he was in his first year at Aston Villa. After a rather indifferent season under Paul Lambert’s goal-shy regime, Benteke dragged Villa out of the relegation battle almost single-handedly. It’s earned him a move to Liverpool—but what kind of player are the Reds really getting?

13 goals in 26 appearances last season is a decent return, and took him to an impressive 42 goals in 89 appearances in total for the club. Considering what dreadful football Villa were playing under Lambert towards the end, this tally is all the more laudable. During his time in the Midlands, Benteke needed 5.6 shots per goal—this compared with the outgoing Raheem Sterling, who needed 10.8 shots for each of his last season. If Benteke can repeat this feat, FLIP sports calculate he should be on course to score at least 16 goals this season, making him a useful addition to any Fantasy Team.

However, Benteke’s passing will need to improve if he’s to be a success at Liverpool. His average pass success rate for Villa was just 64%. To put this into perspective, the average team success rate hovers around the mid-80s, and no outfield player had a percentage lower than Benteke’s. Even Mario Balotelli, coming off a very poor season managed 69.7%. Some of this can be explained by the quality of players for either team—few associate Villa with slick passing. Unfortunately, Benteke also makes 10.4 inaccurate passes per game so his low success rate can’t be completely blamed on those around him. Poor control also costs his team possession over twice a game on average.

One of Benteke’s best and most obvious qualities is his ability to win aerial duels, winning an average of 7.7 per game. Considering this is one of Liverpool’s main weaknesses, purchasing the Belgian will hopefully improve this—but the statistics don’t paint the whole picture in this instance. One of the reasons Liverpool’s players win so few headers is because they like to play the ball on the ground. Now of course, having a player who can consistently win in the air may change that attitude. But unless Brendan Rodgers is ready to change his system to get the best out of him, Benteke’s aerial ability may not translate into goals.

Liverpool are very good at creating opportunities for players to take shots from just outside the penalty area, a position that Benteke is good at scoring from. One imagines though that in a lone striker role he will be too far advanced to take advantage regularly, implying that the Reds may need to partner him with another forward to get the best out of him. This way Benteke can drop deeper on occasion without limiting the team’s attacking threat.

In terms of fantasy team picks, Benteke is definitely worth considering, but you may want to wait to see how Liverpool line up before taking the plunge.

About the author

Sam Hopkinson

Sam has attended matches everywhere from Cambodia to Canada, and is a persistent Spurs fan. If he didn't have football, he'd probably turn to a life of crime just to get that exhilarating fix. Superstitious enough to believe that picking a player for his fantasy team spells doom for the poor sod.