New Crystal Palace signing Christian Benteke has revealed that the club’s ambition and plans for the future helped persuade him to make his switch from Liverpool.
The Eagles have smashed their transfer record to bring in one of the Premier League’s deadliest strikers, with only four players having found the net more regularly than the Belgian since he debuted in England back in September 2012, and after speaking to Alan Pardew Benteke is excited to be a big part of a new-look Palace squad.
After signing his new four year contract, he said: “I’m very happy to commit my future to Crystal Palace and I’m looking forward to meeting the manager, the players and the staff. I feel really happy that the deal has been done and now I can look forward because it’s been going on for a long time, but now I think everything is going to be OK.
“I’ve met the manager a few times before I signed and that’s why I wanted to come here. I was really happy to hear about his project and that is why I am excited to come here. I did my own research too and there are some great wingers here and because of that I think I can be a success here.”
The last 12 months has been a difficult time in the 26-time capped striker’s career after his move to Liverpool didn’t quite work out, but now he knows that Selhurst Park will be his new home for the foreseeable future he is keen to get up to speed as quickly as possible and continue to be a menace for opposition defences.
He played twice for Belgium at Euro 2016 but has lacked minutes during the Reds’ pre-season preparations, so he admits it may take him a couple of games to get used to the rigours of life in the Premier League again, saying: “My fitness is good because I have been working hard but I never got to play in any games so I just need a bit of match fitness.
“A lot of things happened at Liverpool – when I arrived it was with Brendan Rodgers as manager but then he was sacked and Jurgen [Klopp] came in and had his own plan, but that’s part of football. I could have done better but I think I also needed some trust from the manager and the staff.”
That is something that he will be afforded in SE25 with Pardew admitting that he has been a long-term admirer of the hitman having tried to sign him during his time at Newcastle United, and Eagles fans will also be pleased to see him in their red and blue stripes after scoring in SE25 twice in his last two appearances.
However those previous battles against his new club was another factor the 25-year-old took into account when making his decision, and having experienced first-hand the quality of the Palace squad Benteke is relishing linking up with his new teammates.
“I used to play a lot against Crystal Palace and when I came here with Aston Villa and Liverpool,” he added. “It was never easy, so from that I know that we have some good players. That’s why I came here.
“This years is going to be really hard but with the squad that we have, we can aim to get on the right end of the table.”