Mistake to write Benteke off: Klopp

LONDON • Jurgen Klopp inherited Christian Benteke when he took over the reins at Liverpool in 2015 but struggled to find a place for the big striker and allowed him to join Crystal Palace after just a year in charge.

The 27-year-old Belgian returned to haunt his former club when his brace sank the Reds in a 2-1 victory at Anfield in April last year.

And Klopp is not underestimating the muscular presence of Benteke when they travel to Selhurst Park today.

"Everybody who thinks about writing off Benteke makes a big mistake, because his obvious skills are always there," he said of the striker who led the Palace attack in their 2-0 win at Fulham on the opening day of the season.

"Even if he didn't score too often last season, he always has opportunities. It's a big challenge to defend set pieces when Christian is around. He will score goals this season, there's no doubt about that."

Palace have a habit of unsettling superior teams who visit south London and Benteke is not the only threat.

Ivory Coast international Wilfried Zaha signed a new five-year contract with Palace this week, after speculation he might join Chelsea or Tottenham and Eagles boss Roy Hodgson has challenged the 25-year-old to become one of the best players in the world.

"We think very highly of him both as a person and a player, and he's even got a talismanic quality," said former Reds manager Hodgson.

"He's very, very good; all players have got qualities of course, and there aren't many players who can literally do every single thing.

"But he scores top marks in so many aspects of the game and, when it comes to dribbling and manipulating the ball and going past opponents, I put him up there with the very best.

"He did a lot for us last season with his goals and his assists and the way he played and we've tried to make it clear to him we need a lot more of that going forward."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2018, with the headline 'Mistake to write Benteke off: Klopp'. Print Edition | Subscribe