8 Mar 2016

Liverpool Update: Klopp tried to sign 'unplayable' £32m attacker; entered transfer 'negotiations' at BVB

During his time at Borussia Dortmund, Jurgen Klopp tried to sign Christian Benteke. This is not an opinion, it is a stone cold fact, but despite the irrefutable evidence to support this contention, some Liverpool fans (for whatever reason) continue to deny this fact. Well, more supporting evidence has come to light this week that proves categorically that Klopp did try and sign Benteke for BVB.

The evidence so far:

* May 2013: Benteke's agent, Eric Kismet, told ESPN: "I am aware of the Dortmund representation at Villa Park for the Chelsea match, but Christian is still a Villa player and nothing has changed on that point".

* Nov 2015: Benteke himself confirmed: "He [Klopp] tried to sign me...after my first year at Aston Villa. My agent and the manager had a meeting about maybe doing a transfer but nothing happened".

Now, Borussia Dortmund director Carsten Cramer has revealed:

"We were in negotiations [for Benteke] but the transfer fee was above £20 million, which was not possible. He was so expensive, so we couldn't realise it. Jurgen was convinced about him."

So, this issue can now be put to bed: Klopp tried to sign Benteke at Dortmund to the extent that the club entered negotiations to seal the deal. In my view, this is important because it means that:

* Klopp thoroughly analysed Benteke's strengths/weakness/ability to fit into hie gegenpressing system before he took over at Liverpool, and:

* After assessing Benteke, Klopp decided to go ahead with the deal, and was 'convinced' that he could fit him into his system.

As such, the obvious question is this: why has *failed* to get the best out of him at Liverpool? It just doesn't compute: Klopp tried hard to sign Benteke at Dortmund, but as the Liverpool evidence shows, he has no idea how to get the best out of him. With all this in mind, I maintain that Klopp has to take the majority of the blame for Benteke's underperformance this season

* If Benteke - described by Steven Gerrard as 'unplayable' - is in the starting line-up, then the team has to play to his strengths, and that hasn't happened this season. There's rarely any genuine width in the team; crossing is lamentable (18% accuracy this season), and the overall level of service from Lallana, Milner, Moreni, Clyne, Coutinho, Can, Ibe, Firmino etc is consistently poor.

* In any event, lumping crosses into the box is not the way to go. Examining Benteke's goals for Villa and Liverpool, it's clear that he thrives on accurate balls into feet in and around the 18-yard box.

* Benteke may not press like a madman, but not every player in the team needs to do that. There are countless examples of top strikers who don't/didn't engage in the high press (Van Nistelrooy, Van Persie, Berbatov, Ibrahimovic, Sturridge etc).

* Klopp has arguably destroyed Benteke's confidence by constantly dropping him; failing to utilise him in the right manner, and making it clear he has not real faith in his ability.

Bottom line: With 148 goals/assists in 268 career games (One every 129 minutes) Benteke is a proven creative asset (especially in the Prem), and if Klopp can't get him firing for Liverpool, it's his failing, not Benteke's.

If Paul Lambert and Tim Sherwood - supposedly inferior managers - can get Benteke firing on all cylinders, why can't Klopp do the same?

Author: Jaimie K


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