Why Crystal Palace have played a gamble with a new deal for Christian Benteke
According to the Daily Mail, Crystal Palace centre-forward Christian Benteke has put pen to paper on a new one-year contract at Selhurst Park, keeping him at the club until at least the end of 2020-21.
The 28-year-old was supposed to be out of contract next summer but the Eagles have moved quickly to ensure that they don’t end up losing him on a free transfer.
The Belgian international’s future in South London was very much up in the air before the start of the season but Palace haven’t hesitated to offer him a new lease of life to start afresh all over again, despite Benteke failing to rediscover his former devastating self in front of goal.
Benteke, who scored 49 goals in 101 appearances for Aston Villa prior to his big-money move to Liverpool, lasted only one season in Anfield before being deemed surplus to requirements by Jurgen Klopp.
Palace, thereafter, parted with a staggering £27 million to snap up the towering Belgian marksman in 2016 and it looked as if they had bagged a real coup when Benteke made an instant impact at Selhurst Park with 15 goals in the Premier League in the 2016-17 campaign.
However, things have gone downhill for Benteke ever since, with recurrent injuries damning him to long spells on the sidelines and limiting his involvement to a large extent.
So much so, that the 28-year-old has managed to find the net on just 4 occasions in all competitions since the start of the 2017-18 campaign.
Benteke started just 9 games in the Premier League and played a further 7 cameos off the bench due to a long-term knee injury, scoring and assisting one apiece.
The fans would have hoped for the Belgian to return to form this term but he is yet to hit the ground running and early signs suggest that the 28-year-old could be heading for another lacklustre campaign in South London.
Benteke has largely been used as a substitute by Roy Hodgson, who has preferred the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Jordan Ayew up top, and he has so far failed to register any significant goal contribution.
Despite that, however, Palace have secured his immediate future at the club with a new contract and this is probably the last chance that the Belgian is going to be afforded in South London.
Given their mediocre goalscoring record since the start of the last season, the Eagles could have opted to move away from the misfiring Belgian but they are probably aware of the importance of having a powerful centre-forward with proven Premier Leauge pedigree in their ranks.
Alternatively, Palace might have opted for the one-year extension in Benteke’s contract, with a view to cashing in on him in January or next summer.
It has definitely put the Eagles in a stronger negotiating position and they can now look forward to recouping a sizeable portion of the money that they had spent to bring him to the club three years ago.
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Of course, given his patchy injury record and meagre returns in recent times, Palace are going to have to move him on at a loss, as and when they receive a suitable offer and if Christian Benteke fails to grab his last chance this season, the Eagles might as well accept whatever little they get by offloading him next summer.
That is definitely going to be better than losing a player of his calibre for absolutely nothing.