Benteke signing gives Rodgers physical option in attack
LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers has finally captured his number one summer transfer target after striker Christian Benteke completed his £32.5million transfer from Aston Villa.
The Belgium international becomes the seventh new arrival at Anfield since the end of last season but he was always the priority for the Reds boss.
Benteke is understood to have signed a five-year contract after undergoing a two-part medical in London earlier this week before travelling to Merseyside on Wednesday to complete the paperwork on the deal, which will see Liverpool pay £16million up front with the remainder of the fee payable over the course of his contract.
Rodgers' pursuit of the 24-year-old has been a lengthy one as the club were initially not prepared to meet the striker's buy-out clause, but following the sale of Raheem Sterling to Manchester City in £49million deal last week there was a change of heart.
"I'm very happy to be here and I would like to thank the owners, Ian (Ayre, chief executive who pushed the deal through) and of course the manager for their massive effort to bring me here," said the striker.
"I think it was the right club for me because I had a good chat with the manager and I wanted to be part of his project.
"I know Liverpool is a big story. They've won league titles and the Champions League five times and of course the UEFA Cup and a lot of trophies. I know it's a big club.
"I'm very happy to be part of the Liverpool family now and I will do everything to make them happy and work hard for them and my team-mates."
Benteke will not meet most of his new team-mates until they return after Friday's match against a Malaysia XI in Kuala Lumpur.
He already knows a couple of them - goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and Divock Origi - from the national team and believes the summer recruitment has given the Reds a chance of winning silverware.
"I think there are quality players, a lot of good players with big names of course," he added.
"I'm happy to be part of this team and will (try) to help this team reach its goals.
"I want to be the best and I want to reach the best of myself.
"I came here to win trophies. I came here to reach some great goals with the team."
Benteke has added a much-needed physical presence to Liverpool's forward line.
We look at the attacking options manager Brendan Rodgers now has at his disposal.
Christian Benteke: The big Belgium forward will provide a significant aerial threat, something which the Reds have lacked for some time, but he also offers pace and power to put defenders on the back foot. His strength can cause the opposition problems and his movement will stretch their backline, giving Liverpool's playmakers more time and space to work their magic.
Daniel Sturridge: Blessed with electrifying speed and a sharp finish the England international in tandem with Luis Suarez tore Premier League sides apart two seasons ago. A number of injuries restricted him to just 19 appearances in the previous campaign and that unreliability was one of the reasons Rodgers made Benteke his priority summer signing. Sturridge's finishing remains top-drawer, however, and if he can stay fit and adjust to the arrival of Benteke Liverpool could have a very potent strikeforce.
Danny Ings: The Burnley striker showed he could score goals in the top flight with 11 goals - more than anyone in a Liverpool shirt managed in the Premier League - for the relegated Clarets. Will have to be given time to adapt to the step up required at a club like Liverpool but his busy style and intelligent running in and around the penalty area will a provide useful back-up.
Divock Origi: Still unproven at the highest level, the 20-year-old Belgium international has played at a World Cup but still has plenty of development to make. He was loaned back to Lille for a season after his £10million transfer last season but that did not really benefit him much. His first two seasons are likely to be a huge learning curve.
Roberto Firmino: Not technically a striker but an attacking midfielder who has already shown a propensity to score for both Hoffenheim and Brazil and averages roughly a goal every three matches. The £29million signing has also been highly effective as a creator and had a work-rate, honed in the Bundesliga, which is ideally suited to English football.
Out of the picture
Mario Balotelli: Dreadful first season brought just four goals, only one of which was in the league, and persuaded Rodgers to look elsewhere.
Fabio Borini: Impressed in a loan spell with Sunderland and while he is an energetic runner he lacks the quality and goal threat to cut it at Anfield.
Rickie Lambert: Brought in last season as the alternative option but barely played and suffered from such inactivity. Turned down a January move to Aston Villa but is likely to be first out of the exit.