Friday 21 October 2016

Brendan Rodgers: Christian Benteke will be a huge boost for Liverpool up front

Signing of Villa striker to give Liverpool boss wealth of options

Christian Benteke is set to sign for Liverpool after the Aston Villa striker completes a medical
Christian Benteke is set to sign for Liverpool after the Aston Villa striker completes a medical
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers applauds the fans after his side’s 2-0 friendly win over Adelaide United.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers hopes the imminent arrival of Christian Benteke will instantly boost his side's firepower.

It is understood the Aston Villa striker will undergo the first part of a two-stage medical with Reds team doctor Andy Massey, who flew in from Adelaide after leaving the club's pre-season tour early, in London yesterday afternoon with the process continuing today.

Rodgers made the Belgian his primary target after watching Liverpool score just 52 times in the Premier League last season - down from 101 the previous campaign when Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge almost fired them to the title.

On Sunday, Liverpool concluded negotiations on a payment structure which will see them pay £16million up front and the remainder of his £32.5million release clause over the length of his contract.

"It was just clear we needed to score more goals," said Rodgers.

"A few years ago we needed to improve our goal tally and we did that and it gave the team a little bit of profit. I feel it was the same this summer.

"We were down on our goals. Overall it is the balance we need to improve offensively and defensively and the players that will contribute to both."


The capture of Benteke is seen as a show of support for the manager from owners Fenway Sports Group after a robust end-of-season review of a sixth-placed finish resulted in the sacking of assistant manager Colin Pascoe and first team coach Mike Marsh's contract not being renewed.

England Under-19 manager Sean O'Driscoll, former midfielder Gary McAllister and academy coach Pepijn Lijnders have been added to the backroom staff while there has been significant recruitment on the playing side.

Brazil international Roberto Firmino, who will become the club's second-most expensive signing after arriving in a £29million deal from Hoffenheim, will be at the club's Melwood training ground tomorrow to begin preparations for the new season.

He and compatriot Philippe Coutinho have been on extended leave after their involvement in the Copa America but will not meet up with the rest of the squad until they return after a friendly in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.

Meanwhile, new signings James Milner and Danny Ings were on target as Liverpool beat Adelaide United 2-0 yesterday to make it three wins out of three on their pre-season tour of Asia and Australia.

For the second time in four days, the Premier League club attracted a big crowd to an Australian stadium and were given a good workout by A-League opposition.

And as in their 2-1 win over Brisbane Roar on Friday, Milner impressed in central midfield and got on the scoresheet, breaking the deadlock in the 68th minute by guiding Jordan Ibe's cross into the net from what looked like an offside position.

Ings scored the second goal three minutes from time after being put through on goal by England international Nathaniel Clyne.

Ibe put in an impressive display on the right wing in front of 53,008 fans at the Adelaide Oval and had been involved in two good chances around the hour mark.

"Jordan Ibe, I think this could be a big season for him and he's only 19," said Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.

"I thought it was an excellent performance. We pressed the game really well against a good side and we're really happy with the performance and the fitness."

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