Liverpool: Why the Reds must water down their Benteke expectations

Brendan Rodgers currently has a one-in-six success rate when it comes to signing strikers at Liverpool, but the Betfair Sportsbook odds suggest that he has got it right with the imminent £32.5 million arrival of Christian Benteke.

The departing Aston Villa front man is rated 8/11 to make over 28.5 Premier League appearances in 2015/16 compared to EVENS to make less than that, while he is 5/6 to score over 16.5 Premier League goals compared to 10/11 to notch 16 times or fewer.

However, the recent history of how new attackers settle at Anfield indicates that it is prudent to take a more pessimistic view and invest in the plumper under odds in both markets.

Prior to this window, the Reds had recruited nine centre forwards this decade: Andy Carroll, Luis Suarez, Craig Bellamy, Samed Yesil, Fabio Borini, Daniel Sturridge, Iago Aspas, Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli.

We crunched the numbers for how they performed in either their debut season if they joined in the summer or first calendar year if they moved in the winter to discover how noteworthy an initial impact they all enjoyed, and the results were unimpressive.

An unusually suspension-free Suarez was the only one to clear the 28.5 appearance barrier – the average was 19 – with 31, while Sturridge was the sole scorer of over 16.5 goals on 19. Nobody else hit double figures, with five firing two or less, including 2014 additions Lambert and Balotelli.

The deck is stacked against Benteke more than any of his predecessors. Liverpool bought no more than two strikers in any of those other windows, meaning that the signings primarily had those already there to compete with. By contrast, there will be four newbies in this squad with experience of playing up front: the Belgian, his compatriot Divock Origi, Danny Ings and Roberto Firmino.

Also of concern to Benteke backers should be the 24-year-old’s failure to deliver the aforementioned goal target in either of the past two campaigns despite leading the line in a team built around him in which he was a guaranteed starter, partly due to recurring injury problems. As an intriguing comparison, Lambert scored five more league goals in his 24 months before heading to Merseyside.

The other obstacle that the former Genk goal-getter must contend with is that Rodgers isn’t one for persevering, with rotation and tactical reshuffling among his favourite hobbies. There is no preferential treatment for his most expensive purchases either, as proven by the frequent benching or worse of last term’s costliest quartet Adam Lallana, Lazar Markovic, Dejan Lovren and Balotelli.

The striking class of 2014 – Lambert and Balotelli – received 17 Premier League starts and fired three goals between them, so the bar looks to have been set far too high for Benteke at 28.5 appearances and 16.5 goals. Take advantage.