Why Christian Benteke is worth the fee
BARCELONA — Barcelona’s sponsorship deal with Qatar is one of the burning issues club president Josep Maria Bartomeu must tackle following his re-election on Saturday.
The shirt contract, due to expire next year, became a central theme during campaigning for the elections and Bartomeu has shifted his stance from being a steadfast supporter of the Qataris to becoming more flexible on alternatives.
“We have spoken to an important Asian technology company interested in sponsoring the shirt instead of Qatar Airways. They are ready to offer the kind of figures that we are expecting.”
Fellow candidates Joan Laporta and Agusti Benedito led the protests to having a contract with Qatar, arguing that the oil and gas-rich country did not reflect the humanitarian values of the club. Under the presidency of Laporta, Barca reached an agreement to put the UNICEF badge on the shirt and many fans were unhappy when deals were struck to replace it with the Qatar Foundation and then Qatar Airways, while UNICEF was relegated to the back.
Bartomeu denied claims that he was influenced by business interests in Qatar.
“Barca has its values and Qatar Airways are an airline. They offered us the best contract available in terms of sponsorship,” Bartomeu said.
Opinion appears to be divided on the subject with a poll carried out by Spanish television showing 51.5 percent of fans against staying with Qatar if they offered the best financial package.
Despite being burdened by the Neymar transfer scandal and facing trial over tax fraud, Bartomeu still received the backing of 54.6 percent of the votes by members to lead the club over the following six years.
Bartomeu was given the perfect platform to launch his campaign with the team’s prolific form in the second half of the season that led them to a treble success of Champions League and domestic league and Cup titles. Fans gave him the backing to build on this with the contract renewal of coach Luis Enrique having been signed before the elections. — Reuters MUNICH — Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola does not want to sell Mario Gotze after the midfielder hinted he could be interested in a move to Juventus –– but the player could still move on.
Gotze (23) called Juventus a “big, big club” amid reported interest from the Serie A champions, and admitted he could be tempted by a move away from the Bundesliga to play in a different league. He also pulled out of the news conference which he was due to attend alongside his manager on Sunday. He was signed from Borussia Dortmund for €37 million in 2013, but has struggled to hold down a starting role and was named as one of the biggest disappointments of the 2014-15 Bundesliga season by his fellow professionals.
La Gazzetta dello Sport reported on Saturday that Bayern would allow Serie A champions Juve to speak to Gotze -- who scored Germany’s winning goal in the 2014 World Cup final -- over a possible transfer.
Speaking at a news conference ahead of Bayern’s friendly against Inter Milan on Monday, Guardiola insisted that Gotze remains part of his first-team plans -- but he did leave the door open for the player to leave if the Bundesliga champions decided they wanted to sell.
“Mario’s got a contract here, he’s my player and he’s a great player too. In my mind, he is going to be a Bayern Munich player all season.” — Sportinglife LONDON — The selectors have much to ponder after England slumped to a crushing 405run defeat by Australia in the second Ashes test at Lord’s on Sunday with calls for change in the top order coming a week after the team were lauded for their first-test victory.
After producing an excellent all-round performance to pull off a surprise 169-run win over their arch-rivals in Cardiff, England were completely outplayed on a similarly flat pitch.
What was the same in both games, how- LIVERPOOL — Christian Benteke is Liverpool’s second most expensive ever signing – but he’s nothing like record signing Andy Carroll.
During a tumultuous 2014-15 Premier League season, Liverpool scored a grand total of 52 goals in 38 games and with the departure of the frustrating Raheem Sterling to Manchester City, it is only natural that the Reds brass had to look for new attacking options.
It is therefore a surprise to see so many negative reactions to the news that the Reds had paid £32.5 million for the Belgian.
A tally of 42 goals in 87 Premier League appearances at Villa Park for the big Belgian speaks for itself. His 13 goals last campaign would have led Liverpool by four – over penalty specialist Steven Gerrard.
It wasn’t too long ago that any Liverpool fan would have been delighted to be linked with such a potent goal scorer. Now however, many Reds fans bear the scars of past flops and busts in the transfer market that has left them jaded and wary of any new arrivals.
The popular opinion among fans is that this is a carbon copy of the Andy Carroll disaster from 2011. Liverpool had just sold Fernando Torres to their rivals Chelsea for £50 million. There were questions on what that money would be used for, and it turned out that the then 22-year-old Carroll was the choice. Aside from a handful of memorable perfor- ever, was England losing top order wickets cheaply -- the difference at Lord’s being that the middle order did not come to the rescue.
Batsmen Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell and Joe Root failed twice and although Root’s place is not under threat following his brilliant century in Cardiff, the inability to get off to a good start is clearly a major concern.
England have traditionally been renowned for making knee-jerk changes to the team but under new coach Trevor Bayliss they will be mances, Carroll was ultimately a failure at Anfield.
Yes, Benteke is going to cost roughly the same amount of money. Yes, he is a big and strong forward. However, he is not Andy Carroll.
While Carroll is an aerial specialist who has a limited skillset with his feet, Benteke is a much better all-around forward. Pundits will not deny his aerial prowess which is comparable to very few players. He’s not only strong in the air, but he is also strong on the ball. He has underrated ball skills that he uses to perfection in combination with his strength. Defenders simply bounce off him like he is made of rubber.
Having the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana, and Roberto Firminio feeding his runs should make for some delicious viewing for the Liverpool faithful next season.
He’s a far more polished product than Mario Balotelli was upon his arrival last year. At 24, Benteke is just entering the prime of his career. Haven’t fans been clamouring for instant impact players? Benteke is no project. He will contribute from the very beginning. This is an investment not only for next year, but the long haul at Anfield.
The Belgian has proven he can be a match-winner even for a middling side like Villa. Combining him with the talent already on Merseyside can only have a positive effect on him both on and off the pitch. Not every club can sign the Cavani, Reus and Ronaldos of the world. It’s just not feasible. Fans must temper their expectations when it comes to new arrivals. Christian Benteke is a very good player that many teams would love to have in their side.
Is he going to deliver Champions League football on his own? Of course he isn’t, but he will surely be a key contributor to the cause. Hopefully the naysayers will hold off their judgements on the deal until he has actually put in a few shifts for the club.
In a period of flux at Liverpool, Benteke can prove to be a solid piece of business that helped set the club on the right track. The future will be quite intriguing. — t hisisanfield.com
liverpool’s new signing Christian Benteke.