LONDON • Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp has offered Christian Benteke reassurances over his future, insisting that his recent reluctance to select a player whom he regards as "a complete striker" in no way suggests that his time at Anfield will be brief.
Not even Benteke's status as the second-most expensive signing in the club's history has prevented the forward from becoming a regular substitute under Klopp, who has preferred to use Roberto Firmino as a false nine in recent weeks.
Firmino was chosen in the wins at Chelsea and Manchester City, while the £32.5 million (S$66.2 million) Benteke was also a substitute in the last two league games - against Manchester United and Arsenal.
Klopp, though, maintains that Benteke, whom he considered signing when he was in charge of Borussia Dortmund, has the skill set to fit in with his preferred playing style and dismissed suggestions that Benteke lacks the movement to thrive under his management.
"You (the media) are too quick in your judgments," said the German ahead of this morning's (Singapore time) FA Cup third-round replay against Exeter City.
"If I would work like this I would send players who miss chances to the next club or whatever. Stay cool. Of course he has a future, that is not in question.
"When I was at Dortmund, we saw a lot of the games he played, seeing his ability to protect the ball, his technical skills, of course the header, but not only that, his finishing skills in general, all this stuff.
"He is a complete striker, but you have to work for it. He hasn't finished his (development with us) and we as a team haven't either."
Despite the criticism of his form and the growing doubts that surround his suitability to Liverpool, Benteke is their only available striker and also their top scorer with six league goals.
But Klopp believes that his policy of using the 25-year-old as an impact substitute will pay dividends.
"To have Christian on the bench is a quality sign," he said. "I would like to bring him in with us 2-0 in the lead to make it 3-0 or 4-0. But in our last two games, we have not been in the lead, it was the complete opposite situation."
THE TIMES, LONDON