Liverpool must keep an eye on former striker Christian Benteke at Palace this weekend, warns Jürgen Klopp

Liverpool must keep an eye on former striker Christian Benteke at Palace this weekend, warns Jürgen Klopp

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp is well aware of the danger of Crystal Palace forward Christian Benteke, who joined the London club from the Reds in the summer, and says his side must be careful of his quality.

Charlie Malam

Jürgen Klopp has warned his side to watch out for the threat of former Liverpool frontman Christian Benteke when they go up against a Crystal Palace side including him on Saturday.

Benteke faces the Reds for the first time since sealing a £32.5 million move to Selhurst Park in the summer, cutting short his Anfield career after just 12 months.

Ending his time on Merseyside - which heralded nine goals in 29 Premier League appearances, less than half of which were starts - suited both parties.

And that has been proven by his form in the capital, where he has scored important goals in wins over Middlesbrough and Sunderland and a draw against Everton, all away from home.

Meanwhile, the attacking reinforcements Klopp turned to in the summer - Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum - have helped him establish Liverpool as one of the most ruthless and threatening outfits in the top-flight this term.

Consequently Klopp says he has no regrets over Benteke's sale, and admits the style of Alan Pardew's Palace suits the player more than the brand of football his team adopts.

German boss wary of 'wonderful' Benteke's threat

Asked about the target man ahead of Saturday evening's meeting in south London, Klopp said that Benteke's quality is "no surprise" and that "of course" they "knew" about it at Liverpool.

He admitted that "every player" needs "space to perform, to develop and to show things", which the Reds boss acknowledged he couldn't give Benteke on L4.

Klopp said that "for different reasons" they "couldn't give him all the time" which meant the striker lost "a little bit of confidence" and felt "pressure when there is no pressure."

"It is like it is," he continued. "We couldn't change it and I thought, and I'm pretty sure Christian thought the same, that it made sense that he made the transfer."

Nevertheless, Klopp refused to let that distract from the powerful 25-year-old's talent, adding: "For Crystal Palace, what a player."

He reiterated that it wasn't a surprise to him because they had Benteke "all the time in training" and that "in all moments in the last year" he "always showed his quality."

Klopp is wary of Benteke's ability in the area, where he says the No.17 is "really strong", but said that he is "not only good at heading" even though he is "especially good" in the air.

He spoke about how Benteke possesses "good technical skills" and is "a wonderful player", particularly so "at Crystal Palace" - where he receives more of the service suited to his strengths than he did at Liverpool.

Klopp raves about Palace's all-rounded abilities ahead of Selhurst trip

Benteke has hit the post in both of his two last games, as well as missing a penalty and seeing a shot blocked off the line, and given Liverpool's recent struggles at set-piece situations - combined with the aerial threat of Palace - it is no wonder Klopp is aware of where the game could be won.

He said that the Eagles - whom he drew and lost against in his first season - are "a good team" and "a very experienced team" that boast both "a very experienced defence and a high quality offense."

The German lauded his colleague Pardew for making "good signings in the summer" and suggested that they "can go for Europe" because they are "a really good team."

On his previous experience of coming up against Palace, and what to take from those games, Klopp added: "I haven't played often at Palace until now, only one time. We won there but it's a difficult place to play football."

He spoke about factors such as the "small stadium" and noted the "good atmosphere" and the "specific kind of play" of Palace, which means his Liverpool team "will have stuff to do."

Klopp says that they "are looking forward to it" regardless and that they want to "prove we want to stay on track" after going 10 games in all competitions unbeaten with their EFL Cup win over Tottenham Hotspur earlier in the week.

He accepted that they "cannot wish who we play against" and said that while Palace are both "a really tough and strong opponent", it is "not a big surprise" because it's "the same for nearly all of the other Premier League teams."

'My players know they are important to the team in different moments'

Klopp was also quizzed about the sale of Benteke, and the difficulty of keeping players who don't feature as regularly as they may like to happy and content at the club.

He indulged somewhat about the decisions they have to make about the squad, insisting that "part of the decision" is what he and his backroom staff say while "the other part is what the player says."

Klopp declared that the future of his players is "about performing" - which is "a football rule" and not just a rule at Liverpool - because they "need different options for diferent situations" and need "the players to do their best."

He said that the "agreement" between the players and the staffs translates to working hard, not talking too much and winning games as he explained: "If a player doesn't want to be happy, I can't keep happy. If he wants to be happy, it's quite easy for me to keep him happy."

But with the likes of Daniel Sturridge potentially disappointed at their lack of minutes, although the prolific striker scored a brace against Spurs in the cup on Tuesday, Klopp admitted that keeping players happy when they "only play 48 games" is "difficult."

However, he declared that it is "100 per-cent sure" that players within the Liverpool team feel "important" as he said that they are "very, very important in different moments" which means it's "not too difficult" for the players "to be happy in our team."