Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp keen to take pressure off Christian Benteke
Published 28/12/2015 | 14:56
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is refusing to pile the pressure on striker Christian Benteke as he looks to justify his £32.5million transfer fee.
The 25-year-old Belgium international has scored just six goals for the Reds since his summer arrival from Aston Villa, the last of them the decisive strike in a 1-0 Boxing Day victory over surprise Barclays Premier League leaders Leicester.
However, Klopp, who inherited the powerhouse frontman from predecessor Brendan Rodgers, is looking to provide the right support to help Benteke fulfil his potential.
The German, who recently held man-to-man talks with the player, said: "I don't think that you should always create a scenario like this with pressure on the player and say, 'Come on, now you have to show'.
"We spoke about a few things, and that's always important to clear the situation or whatever. He knows what he has to do, that's for sure. He is a player with such potential, so if he doesn't play perfectly, you always think, 'Okay, there's a little bit, there's a little bit'.
"Of course, he's not the same striker as Daniel [Sturridge] or Divock [Origi] because of the movement. All these strikers are different. We have to use his natural skills and he has to try to be more involved in the game, that's all, and then we can make steps together.
"It's not possible to come in as a player and try to play your own style when the team plays differently, for example."
Klopp, who takes his team to struggling Sunderland on Wednesday evening, has few options up front with Sturridge sidelined by a hamstring injury and Origi awaiting the results of a scan on a similar problem.
In the circumstances, Benteke looks to be his best hope of scoring goals, although the manager is well aware of what else he offers on the pitch in addition to his prowess in the penalty area.
Klopp said: "In the end, a striker has to score goals, I know, everybody knows. But there are more times in the game where we need him for defending set-plays - big quality - for offensive set-plays - big quality - all of these things.
"We are clear. He can work and play."
The trip to the Stadium of Light could see Jordan Henderson line up against his former club having returned from a troublesome heel injury in recent weeks to demonstrate his importance to the team.
Klopp said: "That's how it is, he gets his rhythm and it's very important that he can stay in this rhythm. I hope he stays fit and he will help us, of course. He is a high-quality player."
Meanwhile, midfielder Jordon Ibe has returned to training after illness and Klopp will make a late decision on his inclusion or otherwise for the trip to Wearside.