Christian Benteke has emerged as a surprise transfer target for champions Chelsea, according to reports in The Telegraph.
With number one target Romelu Lukaku set to sign for Manchester United this weekend, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is now looking at alternative options. Multiple stories broke in the past few days claiming the Italian is frustrated with the failure to secure his top transfer targets despite a deal for Tiemoue Bakayoko progressing gradually.
With Diego Costa potentially departing the club, Michy Batshuayi could be left as the only recognised striker in the squad and despite netting the title-winning goal the Belgian didn’t overly impress last term, scoring just five league goals in his debut season.
Therefore, Conte is looking to bring in two new strikers as he mounts a defence of that league title and Benteke is apparently on the list of possible targets. It’s rumoured he would arrive along with a bigger marquee signing. The thinking of most is that the Blues will now go after Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata with United having dropped their interest in the Spaniard.
Benteke endured a disappointing spell at Liverpool after his big-money move from Aston Villa in 2015. He fell out-of-favour at Anfield when Jurgen Klopp arrived and was jettisoned to Crystal Palace last August, for a fee rising to £32 million.
There, he found his scoring boots again and was instrumental in keeping the Eagles in the top flight. He scored 15 league goals in 36 games and became a fan favourite in his first season at Selhurst Park.
New Palace boss Frank de Boer will be keen to keep Benteke in south-east London, as he looks to build a squad capable of moving to the next level. However, it could be hard to turn down an offer if the fee is high enough. Also, it would be extremely difficult for Benteke to reject a move to the current champions.
Conte has been offered a huge new contract by Chelsea execs, worth a reported £9.6 million a year. However, he may need reassurances he’ll be allowed to bring in a top striker of his choice before signing.
Peter Reynolds, Pundit Arena
Check out this week’s episode of The Mixer, Pundit Arena’s Irish football podcast. On this week’s show we spoke with Bohemians’ Keith Ward and Cormac Byrne of the Irish Daily Mirror talked us through the situation at Bray Wanderers.