Liverpool have met Christian Benteke’s £32.5 million release clause, according to the BBC, meaning a transfer is now imminent.
There has been a mixed reaction on social media among the Liverpool fans, as some hoped to spend the Raheem Sterling cash on a big European name while others are excited about the prospect of Benteke as he has proven himself in the Premier League.
Bringing in Benteke could have a massive effect on how Liverpool line up, so let’s have a look at a possible starting XI for Liverpool next season.
GK – Simon Mignolet
Mignolet dealt with plenty of criticism at the beginning of the 2014/15 season but managed to turn it all around in 2015 and become one of the most consistent keepers in the Premier League last season but his defence made his job unnecessarily difficult throughout the campaign.
Mignolet’s revival in form has led to Brendan Rodgers putting his complete faith in the Belgian keeper as well as bringing in Adam Bogdan to replace backup Brad Jones.
However, Bogdan is an improvement on Jones and Liverpool fans wouldn’t be too worried with the former Bolton man in goal. Mignolet will be the keeper for Premier League and Europa League games while Bogdan is expected to feature in the domestic cup games.
RB – Nathaniel Clyne
Liverpool didn’t seem to have a right back at all last season as Javier Manquillo failed to impress. Glen Johnson somehow managed to be even more useless than usual and they even attempted to play three centre backs and have Lazar Markovic as a right wing back, which didn’t work at all.
This made the signing of Nathaniel Clyne for £12.5 million crucial this summer, as Liverpool badly needed a reliable right back and Nathaniel Clyne has all of the qualities they need in that position.
CB – Martin Skrtel
Skrtel was linked with Inter Milan this summer but rejected their approaches to sign a new contract with Liverpool. The Slovakian is favourite to be named as new vice-captain, which means that he will probably be first choice centre-back also.
That’s understandable though, as he was also the Reds’ most reliable defender last season, making an average of 9.5 clearances, 1.7 interceptions, 1.2 blocks and 1.2 tackles per game.
CB – Mamadou Sakho
Even though Dejan Lovren partnered Skrtel in central defence in Liverpool’s first pre-season game this summer, most Liverpool fans are hoping it will be Sakho who will partner Skrtel. The Frenchman is more reliable than the Croatian as Sakho is calm, physical and intelligent in defence.
Last season, Sakho made an average 5.9 clearances, 0.3 blocks and 1.6 interceptions per game as well as having an impressive successful passing rate of 89.4%. Not bad for a player who’s ridiculed for looking awkward in possession. Liverpool also have Tiago Ilori, Joe Gomez and Andre Wisdom as alternatives.
LB – Alberto Moreno
Moreno arrived late last summer but announced himself to the Liverpool fans with an incredible solo goal in a 3-0 win over Tottenham. The 23-year-old’s form faded towards the end of the 2014/15 season but he will be back in the next season with a vengeance.
The Spaniard is strong, calm in possession and loves to get forward, as he has plenty of pace. Moreno will also have little competition for the left back position as Liverpool are hoping to sell Jose Enrique this summer, so don’t be surprised if they go after a left back before the transfer window closes.
DM – Emre Can
Emre Can was played out of position during his debut season at Anfield and deserves to be given a chance to play in his preferred midfield position. Despite this, Can displayed his defensive abilities while playing out of position but it’s time for him to pushed into midfield. The German impressed in midfield for his nation in the Under-21 European Championships this summer before they were eliminated by Portugal.
The 21-year-old would be great in midfield and just in front of the defence because of his physical style of play but also his pace would be effective in counter-attacks as he is a player that loves to dribble and get forward.
Lucas Leiva is also still at the club and would be an alternative to Can in defensive midfield. Lucas was linked with a move away this summer but looks to be staying at Anfield, which may explain why links to Real Madrid’s Asier Illarramendi have cooled.
CM – Jordan Henderson
The former Sunderland midfielder was named the new captain of Liverpool last week, so he is going to be one of the first names on the team sheet every week. The player has grown in confidence and strength, and showed last season that he will chip in with creating and scoring goals, as he provided nine assists and scored six goals in the Premier League.
Henderson amazed crowds in Thailand this week with an incredible rabona assist to set up Adam Lallana in their 4-0 win on Tuesday and he is well on his way to becoming one of the best central midfielders in the Premier League.
CM – James Milner
James Milner moved to Anfield from Manchester City on a free transfer this summer and a promise of playing time in central midfield may have been a huge factor as to why he chose Liverpool over staying at City.
The England midfielder is tough, quick and Liverpool fans can rely on Milner to work his socks off from start to finish in every game. As well as this, Milner loves to take a set-piece and can help out with taking corners, free-kicks and penalties, which have been duties left up for grabs since Gerrard’s departure.
AM – Philippe Coutinho
The Brazilian was Liverpool’s star player last season as his wonder goals against Southampton and Manchester City saw him being nominated for PFA Player of the Season.
The 23-year-old has a ridiculous amount of skill, incredible passing ability and has developed an eye for goal. Coutinho has become an idol to Liverpool fans since his arrival to Anfield, so expect him to keep on impressing while it will be interesting to see how he will link up with fellow Brazilian Roberto Firmino.
AM – Roberto Firmino
Liverpool’s marquee signing so far. The Brazilian will bring plenty of excitement to Liverpool’s game as he is expected to link up with Coutinho and he can play in many different positions such as left midfield, right midfield, just behind the striker and up front. Similarly to Coutinho, Firmino has incredible skill, loves to play through balls and can score and create goals from anywhere.
Firmino will take time to adapt to Premier League football and is still on holidays after the Copa America, so he may not start straight away. Liverpool fans need to be patient with the Brazilian. They shouldn’t worry too much if he doesn’t start straight away as they also have Lallana, Markovic and Ibe in the squad.
FW – Christian Benteke
Sturridge is Liverpool’s number one striker because of his incredible goal scoring rate since he arrived at the club and he also links up brilliantly with Henderson and Coutinho. However, the Englishman is not expected to be back for the beginning of the season as he is still recovering from an injury.
This may mean that the signing of Benteke could lead to the Belgian being put up front on his own for the beginning of the season, unless Rodgers decides to play 4-4-2, which could see him partner fellow Belgian striker Divock Origi.
Benteke’s possible arrival to Liverpool would also massively improve their striker options as they will go from Sturridge/Balotelli/Lambert/Borini to Sturridge/Benteke/Origi/Ings.
Sarah Fitzpatrick, Pundit Arena
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