Christian Benteke has continued to frustrate the Crystal Palace FC faithful this season and the club are simply unable to accommodate a place in the starting line-up for a forward who simply isn’t producing consistent performances or providing goals.
Crystal Palace FC failed to score in their opening seven Premier League fixtures and Benteke missed a full host of goal scoring opportunities during this period. His ineptitude and lack of form in the final third was shone under the spotlight, when he lacked the composure and failed to provide the finish to score in a one-on-one scenario during a 1-0 defeat against Burnley at Turf Moor in September.
Questions have continued to be asked until now, despite Crystal Palace FC’s sudden revival under Roy Hodgson over the past three months. He went onto miss an array of chances, including a memorable horror miss from close-range against Liverpool and his penalty miss against AFC Bournemouth.
The latter was surely one of the most forgettable moments of the 2017/18 season for the former Aston Villa and Liverpool striker. The Belgian opted to jeopardize his team’s chances of earning all three points by stealing penalty duties from Luka Milivojevic in the dying stages, despite his penalty conversion earlier in the match.
It was inevitably set to end in tears and Begovic confirmed his fate by comfortably saving his tame penalty kick. The match ended level and his actions in the most climatic stages at Selhurst Park were blasted all over the press. Benteke’s performances have improved in recent weeks with a goal and an assist during their 3-0 win against Leicester City on 16 December and another assist in their comeback win against Southampton on 2 January.
However, one goal in sixteen appearances is an underwhelming return for any top level striker, let alone one who promised so much in the professional game. This season has confirmed his decline, which began following his move from Aston Villa to Liverpool at the beginning of the 2015/16 season.
Benteke rose to prominence during his time at Villa Park, scoring 49 goals in 101 appearances in all competitions between 2012 and 2015. He arrived at Anfield for a fee of £32.5 million, which made him the second-most expensive Liverpool player at the time. However, the price tag and pressure of playing for the reds set a spell on the initially promising prospect and he accumulated a mere ten goals in all competitions during his solitary season at the club.
The 27-year-old transferred to Crystal Palace FC at the beginning of the 2016/17 season for a fee of £27 million plus future add-ons. It seemed as if he’d rediscovered his scoring form, after netting seventeen goals in 40 appearances in all competitions for The Eagles. He also regained his place in the Belgian squad in March 2017 but has been unable to receive another cap due to his dismal record at present.
Who’s Filling The Void for Christian Benteke?
Crystal Palace have accumulated twenty Premier League goals this season, despite failing to score in their first seven matches but Benteke only makes up 5% of their season tally. The Eagles have scored eight goals in their previous five Premier League fixtures and are having very little trouble finding the net, although the presence of a talisman will surely enhance their chances of scoring more goals.
The return to fitness of Wilfried Zaha sparked a revival at Selhurst Park and the Ivorian international is the joint-top goal scorer for the club with four league goals. Luka Milivojevic has also scored four times, James McArthur trails behind with three and Bakary Sako has also netted twice in the Premier League this season.
Benteke undeniably contributes to the attack with his aerial prowess but this has sugar-coated a much more concerning problem, which is clearly his lack of goals. He may win an average of 8.9 aerial battles per game but he’s also only managed one goal from 1,301 minutes of league football this season, despite averaging 2.1 shots per game.
He’s not short of service either, with the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Andros Townsend and Ruben Loftus-Cheek driving the ball forward on a consistent basis. Townsend has made the most assists for Crystal Palace FC (4) this season in the Premier League and Ruben Loftus-Cheek holds the second-best record with two assists.
It’s a combination of poor positioning, lack of confidence and lack of composure which has contributed to the disastrous spell. His fellow colleagues have been saving his skin for the first period of the 2017/18 campaign but he may find himself being replaced with the January Transfer Window open.
Who Could Replace Him?
Crystal Palace FC have been linked with a series of forwards since early December but the majority are purely speculation. Oumar Niasse is the most recent rumour murmuring in the media but the Everton striker has also been linked with West Ham, West Bromwich Albion, as well as Palace.
He’d potentially fit in well in the Crystal Palace attack, especially if he’s played in a 4-3-3 alongside both Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend. The 27-year-old joined Hull City on-loan until the end of the season in January 2016 and sparked a near revival with four goals during his spell. The Senegal international has rarely been given an opportunity at Everton, which is surprising considering he’s bagged six goals in nine appearances in all competitions.
The Eagles are also preparing to launch a shock move for Watford forward Stefano Okako according to reports in The Sun on Sunday. Cenk Tosun, who scored 64 goals in 142 appearances for Turkish outfit Besiktas, was also linked with the club in December but he’s since went onto join Everton.
This suggests the exit door will be open for Niasse to depart Goodison Park and a move to Crystal Palace FC could be on the cards if there is any truth to the rumours. Danny Ings (Liverpool), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Islam Slimani (Leicester City) and Benik Afobe (AFC Bournemouth) could also be available during the transfer window and they’d all be good options, at least to compete with Benteke.