#sports activities DC United: Can club-record signing Christian Benteke bag the goals to turn their season round?
DC United’s new club-record signing, Christian Benteke, should be up there as certainly one of the most high-profile gamers in the MLS presently, together with fellow Designated Players Carlos Vela, Javier Hernandez, Gonzalo Higuain and Xherdan Shaqiri.
What hyperlinks all of them? Having performed in the Premier League, the best and prestigious in the world. And solely 45 of the 4,535 gamers in the competitors’s 30-year historical past have scored greater than Benteke.
More goals there than Eden Hazard, Fernando Torres, Carlos Tevez, Eric Cantona, Luis Suarez, and a sure Mr. David Beckham, with one lower than legendary Dutchman Dennis Bergkamp.
So Benteke, signed from Crystal Palace, brings expertise and actual pedigree at the prime degree. But at 31, his finest years are behind him and it is not all been plain crusing at Palace, with a number of niggly accidents and years of low confidence and aim droughts.
With Benteke leaving the Eagles as third-choice striker, it’s undoubtedly a raffle for Wayne Rooney’s DC United, however with the facet all-time low of the MLS Eastern Conference, possibly it is the proper time to take a threat.
Sportsmail takes a have a look at whether or not Benteke – who has signed a two-and-a-half 12 months deal after being persuaded to be part of by Rooney – will likely be successful in the US capital and discusses whether or not he’s the man to turn the Black-and-Reds’ season round.
Striker Christian Benteke has made the transfer to Washington after signing for DC United
Benteke couldn’t turn down the alternative to signal for soccer legend Wayne Rooney (proper)
The Belgian (above) will spearhead DC’s assault and look to use the creativity of Ravel Morrison – under, Sportsmail takes a have a look at whether or not the 31-year-old can turn the membership’s season round
Career beginnings and an explosive begin at Villa
Benteke, born in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, moved to Liege in Belgium together with his household at the age of three to escape the brutal, corrupt Mobutu regime.
After profitable loans at Kortrijk and Mechelen as a young person, he returned to boyhood facet Genk, the place he caught the eye of a number of European sides after 16 goals in 32 appearances in all competitions in his first full season there.
Aston Villa had been the group to take a punt on the unproven striker, snapping him up for $8.5million. He scored on his debut, a 2-0 win over Swansea, and by Christmas Tottenham supervisor Andre Villas-Boas was calling him the ‘shock package deal’ of the season.
That first 12 months noticed him rating 23 goals in all competitions, ending runner-up to Gareth Bale for the PFA Young Player of the Year award. After signing a brand new four-year deal, he began the subsequent season on hearth however was hit by a hip flexor harm.
Niggling accidents noticed him fail to rating for 12 video games, and though he broke his goalscoring duck, then ruptured his Achilles tendon in March 2014. He could be out for six months.
The following season, it took him till March to rating his third of the season, however he completed strongly to bag 15 goals in all competitions. Liverpool had seen what they wished. They activated his $38.3m launch clause and Benteke was a Reds participant.
Benteke loved an explosive begin at his first membership in English soccer, Aston Villa (pictured)
Struggles at Liverpool
Brought in to provide a bodily dimension, an alternate possibility in the roster to the tempo and ending of Daniel Sturridge and the guile and motion of Roberto Firmino, Benteke struggled to impose himself and cement an everyday spot in the XI.
Despite arriving as Liverpool’s then-second costliest participant of all time, he was initially bedded in to the group slowly, typically used in its place.
But his optimistic impression off the bench and his conventional strengths – top, bodily prowess and hold-up play – truly pigeonholed him right into a ‘tremendous sub’ function, utilized in the final 10-Quarter-hour of video games to chase a aim or defend a lead.
Benteke produced in spurts at Liverpool however discovered himself out of favor beneath Jurgen Klopp
Although he scored a number of tremendous goals, together with a panoramic overhead kick in opposition to rivals Manchester United, and was named captain for an FA Cup tie in opposition to Exeter in January, Liverpool and Benteke by no means appeared totally suited to one another.
Like Romelu Lukaku at Chelsea extra lately, the expertise was by no means in query, however the slot in the group was not fairly there, even when his goals-to-minutes ratio was the finest at the membership amongst all gamers who began a minimum of 12 video games.
So when Crystal Palace provided Liverpool practically the full payment that they had paid a summer season earlier, supervisor Jurgen Klopp was content material to let him go.
But the Democratic Republic of Congo-born star has a penchant for spectacular moments
Saving the Eagles from relegation
For Palace, the gusty south London membership battling in opposition to relegation, 9 goals in 29 appearances at Liverpool – a file of just about one aim each three video games regardless of typically getting used as a substitute – marked Benteke as a powerful funding.
Aged 25, the prime of his profession, the Eagles had been glad to splash out $32.5m, rising to $37.7m with add-ons, for the Belgian star. In 2022, that payment stay their club-record signing.
At first, they had been proved proper. He scored a 94th-minute winner in opposition to Sunderland, ended a run of six straight losses with a double vs Southampton on his birthday, and scored twice at Anfield to hang-out his former employers as Palace beat Liverpool 2-1.
He completed the 2016-17 season with 15 league goals, 17 in all competitions, and it appeared cash effectively spent. That was nearly a 3rd of Palace’s 50 league goals. He did not single-handedly save them from relegation, nevertheless it was an enormous issue.
Soon, although, the exhausting instances got here, and his subsequent 75 video games would solely yield a paltry six goals.
Benteke scored 17 goals in all competitions in his first season with London facet Crystal Palace
Benteke loved six seasons in south London with Palace, producing some enormous moments
Loss of confidence and aim drought
Being the solely actual placing possibility for Palace meant he typically had to play by way of the ache barrier, exacerbating his harm issues and which means he couldn’t take outing of the group to rediscover kind and confidence. He simply had to play by way of it.
Fans had been annoyed, significantly after Benteke grabbed the ball off common penalty-taker Luka Milivojevic in stoppage time in opposition to Bournemouth, solely to miss with the membership deep in relegation hassle, when a winner may have been vastly worthwhile.
He was booed off the pitch after that. Yet general, his work ethic and optimistic perspective noticed him make significant contributions on and off the pitch all through his time at Selhurst Park, whether or not he was scoring goals or not.
Benteke was all the time helpful in each penalty containers and helped carry team-mates into play, typically linking up properly with talisman Wilfried Zaha.
But he additionally suffered a number of accidents and years of low confidence, main to lengthy aim droughts
Nonetheless, contract extensions in October 2019 and June 2021 had been extra for the function of retaining Benteke’s worth, relatively than essentially a reward for his performances.
Although able to some good moments, scoring in 4 video games in a row in 2021 and demonstrating sensible approach with a shocking volley to beat fierce rivals Brighton and Hove Albion away from house, at the time of his departure he was third selection.
Behind Jean-Philippe Mateta and Odsonne Edouard in the pecking order and certainly one of Palace’s prime earners on greater than $120,000-a-week, it was in all probability the proper time for Palace to money in.
But the heat with which chairman Steve Parish wished him effectively proves how extremely he was revered at the membership – and will likely be music to the ears of DC United followers.
Parish stated: ‘Christian has performed a vital function on this membership’s journey, making a right away impression after signing and taking part in a central function in the squad since… He’s somebody I’ve loved an ideal relationship with and he is proven unimaginable loyalty.’
Nonetheless, on his day, the huge goal man was near-unplayable for Premier League defenses
A brand new problem Stateside
So may this be the recent begin Benteke – and DC United – want? At 31, albeit 32 in December, he has the physicality to dominate MLS defenses, and the professionalism to maintain himself in prime form.
His goals file at membership degree, barring a couple of droughts, and in internationals – 18 in 45 for the world’s second-ranked facet – will not be to be sniffed at.
The prospect of Benteke linking up with Ravel Morrison or Ola Kamara in a entrance two, maybe with Taxiarchis Fountas behind them in the gap, and heading house crosses from left-back and ex-Liverpool team-mate Brad Smith, needs to be an attractive one.
So if DC can maintain their marquee signing match – and it is a huge if, after struggling knee, hamstring, groin, hip, ankle and foot accidents at Palace – followers may very well be seeing his ‘Silencer’ celebration, impressed by LA Lakers star LeBron James, pretty usually.
And if ‘Big Ben’ – named after the enormous clock at the Palace of Westminster in London, England – can strike usually, you may additionally be listening to adulating supporters belting out Benteke’s unofficial anthem, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, by the Tokens, tonight.
There is a striker, a Belgian striker, referred to as Christian Bentekeeee…
Benteke has channeled LeBron James’ silencer celebration and introduced it to the soccer pitch
The huge Belgian is ready to characteristic for the last-placed Eastern Conference membership tonight