What if Christian Benteke to Crystal Palace was a transaction made akin to American sports rules? What if Palace had to give Liverpool players, not money?
With the transfer window closed and the biggest moves of the year now in the rear view, the deals will continue to be dissected down to granular analysis. But what if it wasn’t a transfer, what if it was a trade? In American sports, clubs cannot purchase a player from another team: they have to agree to trade players (or draft picks) to acquire players they want. In that light, we’ll look at the biggest transfers that went down this summer and see how they could be different in this fictional reality. For this edition, what if Christian Benteke was traded to Crystal Palace rather than purchased?
Jurgen Klopp succinctly summed up what would happen with Christian Benteke this summer and left absolutely no room for interpretation (via Sky Sports): “Everyone knows about it. Christian has already said maybe it makes sense to go to another club.”
This was in the beginning of August, when other clubs like West Ham, Juventus, Atletico Madrid and others were rumored to have some tepid interest in the Belgian, but Crystal Palace were the only team with concrete offers.
Liverpool and Palace couldn’t agree a fee and negotiations reached an impasse for a few weeks. It looked as if Klopp had been entrenched in his £30million valuation of the striker and was prepared to keep him on the books this season if no club were willing to meet the price.
Palace returned to the table when failed bids for other strikers had been realized and finally acquiesced to the price: Benteke was London bound.
The issue was never interest or fit, it was always money.
If the deal had been presented as a trade, maybe it would have been completed much earlier than it had been. Here’s an alternative way that Benteke could’ve found himself in Palace red and blue.
Crystal Palace receives: Christian Benteke
Liverpool receives: Yannick Bolasie
A fair deal by way of transfer fees paid this summer: generally about the same, around £30million.
Palace gets what they desperately needed: a proven goalscoring striker (who’s not washed up and plucked off the beach. Looking at you, Emmanuel Adebayor.)
With Benteke, Palace will have a fantastic striker once his confidence and form is fixed. Klopp plus Benteke’s inner conscious combined to blow that confidence into shrapnel. The Belgian seemed to have two minds about what shoe to put on first, much less when to take a shot or an extra dribble.
Plus Liverpool just didn’t play to Benteke’s strengths. Klopp liked to keep the ball on the floor and most dead balls were taken quick and on the ground.
Crosses were at a minimum, especially with players like Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana naturally drifting inland than staying wide like typical wingers. And Alberto Moreno was happy if he plopped the ball anywhere inside the 18 yard box, let alone hope to pick someone out.
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Benteke will find things much more tailored to his game at Palace. He’ll be the main man, the team will fit to him rather than the other way around. They’ve been known for the wing play with Wilfried Zaha and Bolasie last season, then they signed Andros Townsend this summer. Crosses won’t be rare, to put it lightly.
Their central defenders love to come up and attack any set piece. Benteke will only add to the terror that Palace inspire on attacking corners and free kicks.
This signing needed to happen, it was so obvious. Thankfully in real life both clubs were able to agree on a deal so not to waste another year of the striker’s career.
This whole Bolasie to Everton thing wouldn’t have happened either. It’d be a residual loss for Everton which is always a bonus for Liverpool whenever they find anterior methods of inflicting pain across Stanley Park when it’s not on the pitch.
Bolasie’s shortcomings are valid: mainly the huge questions around his finishing ability and end product. A lot of his highlights typically include a slick dribbling move– then nothing. There’s no goal at the end of the video, for himself or a teammate.
That can be partly attributed to Palace’s anemic attack that usually had him surrounded by James Puncheon (who scored just two goals in 32 games from the attacking midfield) as well as the underwhelming strike force comprised of Connor Wickham (5 goals in 21 games combined with about 700 missed chances) and the comical signing of Adebayor (predictably only scored once in 12 matches), which typified how badly Palace were struggling for goals.
The other winger he played with was Zaha who is as inconsistent as they come.
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Put Bolasie in a team with Daniel Sturridge, Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, there’s a natural uptick in his final product.
Plus, the early season for Liverpool has showed how important Mane is to them. Add Bolasie, a lesser all-around player but someone who also possess earth shattering pace, and there’s an insurance policy whenever Mane is unavailable.
Liverpool are short on wingers. Klopp allowed Jordon Ibe to leave because he didn’t see much playing time for him but Bolasie would be different. He wouldn’t necessarily be in the team every single week, but he’d add another dynamic to the attacking options for Liverpool.