Ex-Premier League boss tried to talk Liverpool out of transfer that flopped under Jürgen Klopp

Jurgen Klopp celebrates with Christian Benteke at the end of the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Watford at Anfield in May 2016
Christian Benteke failed to hold down a regular spot under Jürgen Klopp at Liverpool -Credit:Getty Images

As Jürgen Klopp’s time at Liverpool draws to a close, it can be easy to forget just how different the club is now compared to when he first arrived.

We have of course all seen the infamous graphics of some of the teams Klopp had to select when he first arrived at Anfield. To say he has transformed the Reds would be something of an understatement.

Although some of the names during those early stages would go on to become crucial members of the German’s side — the likes of Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino were already in place — there were others that rather summed up the malaise that took over during the latter stages of Brendan Rodgers’ time in charge.

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Few players summed that up better than Christian Benteke. Liverpool signed the Belgium international for around $41m (£32.5m/€37.7m) from Aston Villa in 2015, with Rodgers particularly keen on his purchase.

But when Rodgers departed and Klopp took over, the striker failed to nail down a place in the side, and it wouldn’t be long before he was on his way out of Anfield, joining Crystal Palace just a year after signing for the Reds.

Despite catching the eye at Villa, Benteke’s signing can certainly be considered a misstep by Liverpool. Perhaps if the club had known about the surprise at Villa Park over the transfer bid, they might have had second thoughts.

“At the end of the season Brendan called me and said he was going to sign Christian,” former Villa boss Tim Sherwood recalled on the Undr The Cosh Podcast. “I tried my best to put him off.

“I remember ringing the chairman and I told him Christian is going. And he said ‘you’re joking me?’

“It wasn’t like, ‘you’re joking we don’t want to lose him.’ It was like ‘You’re joking, nobody is paying that?’” says: If you need a good indicator of just how far Liverpool has come under Klopp, you don’t need to look much further than this. Benteke actually arrived in the same summer as Firmino, yet the two players’ fortunes could not have been more different.

Now plying his trade in the MLS with DC United, Benteke’s time at Anfield won’t be remembered too fondly by anyone, including himself. Liverpool managed to recoup most of the fee paid to Villa when he was sold to Palace, but the transfer certainly wasn’t a highlight during Michael Edwards’ time as sporting director.