Crystal Palace have been wondering what to do with Christian Benteke for well over a year now and thanks to Chinese club Shandong Luneng Taishan it looks as though they may finally have a feasible answer.
After an impressive first season in red and blue, the Belgian international has struggled massively for form in front of goal, prompting many in the stands to wonder what the point is of keeping him on the club’s books. Unfortunately, there’s seldom much of a market for misfiring strikers on £130,000 a week but thanks to the amount of cash sloshing around the Chinese Super League, it seems as though the big man may now half a realistic exit strategy.
According to The Times, Shendong have tabled a £15 million bid for the frontman, with Benteke himself set for a contract worth some £8 million a year; yes it’s a footballing backwater but for a player whose reputation on these shores has taken a real bartering over the last 18 months, it’ll certainly represent a nice bit of long-term financial security for he and his family.
There is part of me (and I dare say many Palace fans feel the same way) which wants to see Christian stick it out and rediscover the form he once had in a Palace shirt but with each passing month, the chances of him recapturing past glories seem to get a slimmer. It could well be a consequence of the system he’s now being asked to play in under Roy Hodgson, a loss of confidence or a mixture of both but whatever the reasons, it’s difficult to feel as though the club have got value for money throughout the former Liverpool striker’s time in SE25.
Whilst £15 million isn’t close to what we paid the Reds to sign him, it’s a significant chunk more than I have expected another club to bid for him over the last year or so. I’m not saying that Hodgson and co. should immediately bite their hands off; they may well have plans for Benteke still but after coming to terms with the fact that we wouldn’t be able to shift the big man off the wage bill without taking a gigantic financial hit, this opportunity certainly feels to me like a welcome surprise.
Watch this space.