Jurgen Klopp accused the media of being “too quick” to suggest Christian Benteke does not have a long-term future at Liverpool after a few games on the bench.
Benteke has started Liverpool’s last two Premier League games on the bench, as well as their Capital One Cup game at Stoke City, but could return to the starting line-up in Wednesday’s FA Cup replay against Exeter having also started the first game at St James Park.
Despite overlooking the Belgian recently, Klopp insists Benteke does have a future at Anfield.
“You are too quick in your judgements,” said Klopp, when asked if the 25-year-old featured in his long-term plans. “If I worked like this I would send players who miss chances to the next club or whatever. Stay cool. Of course he has a future, that is not a question.
“What we have to do is think what team fits together for the special game. For the next game it could be different. We have to think about how we create chances. First of all we cannot hope that we get the ball into the box and then maybe Christian will finish it.
“He is a goalscorer and makes chances and so on, that is all good, but this is how it works – we make a starting line-up and it ends at 11, then we make the bench. He has always the possibility to play.”
Klopp: Benteke a ‘complete striker’
Klopp, who considered signing Benteke for Borussia Dortmund in 2013, even meeting him at Dusseldorf Airport, acknowledges playing Benteke ahead of Roberto Firmino has not worked so far, but he has not ruled out trying the partnership again in the future.
Klopp added: “We (at Dortmund) saw a lot of games he played and liked how he kept the ball, his technical skills, of course the header but not only that, his finishing skills, all this stuff. From all those things he is a complete striker, but at the end you have to work for it. He didn’t finish his development and we as a team didn’t finish.
“In this situation you have to look at how it fits. For example, we had our games with Roberto and Christian as a No.10 and a No.9. It did not work in this moment, but that does not mean we can never play like this.
“In this moment it doesn’t fit too well so we have to think about how to make it easier for players to bring in their skills. To have Christian on the bench is a quality sign and to bring him in with his qualities in a close game is good. I would like to bring him in with us 2-0 in the lead to make it 3-0 or 4-0 but in the last two games it was the complete opposite situation.
“I understand this. We don’t score enough goals and you ask about the striker, the only striker we have in your mind. He is on the bench and that seems to be strange but not in my opinion. As long as I have some influence in the starting line-up then I would like to use this influence.”