Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew believes Christian Benteke can lift the Eagles after the departures of “iconic” duo Yannick Bolasie and Mile Jedinak.
A fee of £27million plus £5million of add-ons has been agreed with Liverpool for the 25-year-old striker, who will become Palace’s club-record signing subject to agreeing personal terms and passing a medical.
While at Anfield Benteke struggled to repeat the form that persuaded Liverpool to pay Aston Villa £32.5million for him last summer – but Pardew hopes the Belgium international can get back to his best at Selhurst Park.
Pardew also praised his club’s board for their ‘bravery’ in securing a deal for the forward as Palace look to mitigate the loss of influential duo Bolasie and Jedinak to Everton and Aston Villa, respectively.
“It’s still subject to personal terms and a medical, but in terms of an agreement with Liverpool, finally we seem to have got there,” said Pardew, who also targeted a move for Benteke while he was in charge of Newcastle.
“It’s important when you lose iconic players to try and replace them with iconic players. We’ve lost two this week, Mile Jedinak and Yala Bolasie. Both were massive figures at this club and we will need to replace them with big figures.
“That’s something that didn’t always happen at Newcastle, unfortunately, so I’m pleased the board have been brave with this move.
“He’s someone I know very, very well because I wanted to take him to Newcastle. I thought he’d be a fantastic fit for that club. He got the move to Liverpool and it hasn’t quite worked out.
“For us, we need to get him back to doing what he does best. His style of play, the way he feeds off crosses…
“He’ll enjoy that with the wide players we have. But he’s not our player yet.
“(Bolasie’s transfer to Everton) wasn’t something that I’d planned. I asked him if there was anything we could do to keep him at the club, and his response was ‘no’.”
The transfer fee for Benteke – whose move will not be completed in time for him to feature in Saturday’s Premier League trip to Tottenham – will more than double the previous club-record £13million Palace paid to recruit Andros Townsend.
Saturday’s match represents the winger’s first at White Hart Lane since he left Tottenham to join Newcastle in January.
He is expected to retain his place despite Palace’s disappointing performance in last week’s 1-0 home defeat by West Brom. Yohan Cabaye, James McArthur, James Tomkins and Jordon Mutch have since recovered their match fitness, and are likely to feature among changes.
“(Spurs have) an energy in their squad,” said Pardew. “They haven’t had to make wholesale changes in that group because they’re so young, and they’ll be better for the experience of last year.
“Their first home game is not an ideal draw for us. We’ll have to be very, very good to get something there.”