It was not too long ago when Christian Benteke was considered as one of the most dangerous No.9s in the country — and rightly so.
At Aston Villa between 2012 and 2015, Benteke reached double figures in each of his three seasons at the club (19, 10 and 13), and it was his goals that kept the Villans in the Premier League.
Once he left the Midlands club for Liverpool, they fell apart and, in essence, were condemned to relegation as soon as the decision to sell the Belgian was made.
Benteke, however, was not able to have the same influence at Anfield with Liverpool’s decision to replace Brendan Rodgers with Jurgen Klopp having impacted the 27-year-old significantly.
Klopp did not see Benteke as a No.9 suitable for his team and the style of football he wanted to implement on the red side of Merseyside, resulting in him having to settle for a substitute role.
Benteke, though, still managed to register nine Premier League goals despite not being one of the first names on the teamsheet.
Ultimately, the Belgium international’s stock was still high even after a lacklustre campaign by his high standards, something which was evident when Crystal Palace decided to fork out £27m (via BBC Sport) for his signature in the summer of 2016.
And the decision to do so looked a good one with Benteke scoring 15 goals in 36 Premier League appearances in his debut season at the club. However, it has been all downhill ever since and, while his lack of efficiency in front of goal will be the first thing to be mentioned, Benteke’s overall game is in decline.
To put things into perspective, since the beginning of the 2017/18 Premier League season, the former Aston Villa man has had *27 big chances, scoring just three of them, which was his total tally for that campaign.
But as well as that, his hold-up play also seems to have suffered since arriving at Selhurst Park. While he remains as dominant as ever in aerial duels, when it comes to playing simple lay-off passes to team-mates, it is an area of Benteke’s game that is regressing, too.
His pass completion has dropped from *60% in his first season at Crystal Palace to 56% during the last, and it is a trend that looks set to continue based on his recent performances.
If Benteke was once the most effective No.9s in the Premier League based on his finishing ability and hold-up play, then those aspects of his game mean the opposite is now the case.
*Statistics taken from Squawka
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