Why Chris­tian Ben­teke is worth the fee

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

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.

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