D.C. United acquires Christian Benteke

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D.C. United on Friday acquired Belgian nationwide workforce striker Christian Benteke from Crystal Palace, including a 10-year Premier League veteran as MLS’s switch and commerce window closed and the London membership was getting ready to start its season.

The deal was struck late Thursday, hours earlier than MLS’s midnight deadline and someday earlier than Palace’s opener in opposition to Arsenal, giving new coach Wayne Rooney and the last-place group their greatest roster splash of the summer time.

“Christian is a top player who has played at the highest level for a long time,” stated Rooney, who, throughout his enjoying profession with Manchester United and Everton, confronted Benteke a number of occasions. “His experience and ability to score goals and help the team will be invaluable. It’s exciting for the team and myself to get him in and playing. He will make a huge difference.”

Benteke, 31, will change into the highest-paid participant in membership historical past, two folks aware of the phrases stated. His wage will surpass Rooney’s $3.5 million pact in 2019, his second and ultimate season as a United participant.

Benteke signed by the 2024 season and the membership holds an possibility for 2025.

He’ll fill United’s third and ultimate slot for high-end designated gamers, becoming a member of Greek attacker Taxi Fountas and Icelandic defensive midfielder Victor Palsson.

United additionally paid an undisclosed switch payment, estimated to be value multimillions, to Crystal Palace, Benteke’s membership the previous six seasons.

He’s not allowed to play in MLS till his work visa is authorized, a course of that sometimes takes at the very least two weeks, however he’s anticipated to go to Washington as early as subsequent week to fulfill his new teammates, discover housing and get acclimated to the climate.

Wayne Rooney is a megastar. Extra importantly, he desires to teach.

“His strength and power will make him a focal point of our team and his ability to link up play will be a valuable asset to us,” United Normal Supervisor Lucy Rushton stated in an announcement. “We are excited to get Christian integrated with the team so he can make an immediate impact.”

Dave Kasper, United’s president of soccer operations, stated in an interview the membership started partaking with Benteke’s representatives seven to 10 days in the past. At first, he stated, the outlook appeared bleak due to excessive monetary calls for.

However Kasper stated he labored intently with Benteke’s agent, Kismet Eris, and the respective homeowners negotiated the switch payment and different concerns.

As well as, Kasper stated, Rooney spoke to Benteke — an interplay that, though they didn’t know one another very effectively, helped transfer the method alongside. “That played a big role in bringing him to the club,” Kasper stated.

In hiring Rooney final month, United was relying on the previous English celebrity utilizing his standing within the sport to assist entice gamers to Washington.

Amongst Rooney’s high priorities was signing a giant ahead. United didn’t get anyplace with Luton City’s 6-foot-4 Elijah Adebayo however traded with the Columbus Crew for 6-3 Miguel Berry and landed 6-2 Benteke.

Benteke was as soon as one of many highest-valued strikers in Europe. Liverpool paid Aston Villa $51 million for the Belgian in 2015 and, a yr later, Palace acquired him from the Reds for $34 million.

His greatest season with Palace was his first, 2016-17, when he recorded 15 league objectives. He scored 10 in 2020-21 however solely 4 in 11 begins (25 appearances) final season. All these objectives got here final fall and, whereas Odsonne Édouard secured the beginning job at striker, Benteke went scoreless in his final 13 appearances, principally instead.

In his 280-match Premier League profession, he had 86 objectives and 23 assists.

With the Belgian nationwide workforce, Benteke has posted 18 objectives in 45 matches, final showing for FIFA’s No. 2-ranked workforce in March. He has performed in two European Championships.

What to know in regards to the 2022-23 English Premier League season

Benteke is United’s final acquisition throughout the summer time window, becoming a member of Berry, goalkeeper David Ochoa (Actual Salt Lake), winger Martín Rodríguez (Altay, Turkey), attacking midfielder Ravel Morrison (Derby County, England) and defensive midfielder Palsson (Schalke, Germany).

Ochoa and Palsson have but to make their debuts.

Whereas Ochoa and Palsson promise to assist the defensive trigger, United didn’t tackle backline points. The membership (6-13-3) has conceded a league-worst 47 objectives and, throughout Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat at Charlotte FC, middle again Brandon Hines-Ike (20 begins) suffered a foot harm that’s anticipated to sideline him the remainder of the season.

United lacks depth in each backline place. Sami Guediri, who started the yr at second-division Loudoun United, has been beginning at left again. Proper again Andy Najar, an everyday starter a lot of the yr, has been relegated to a sub’s function below Rooney; Chris Odoi-Atsem has been beginning.

Donovan Pines, who has struggled this season, and Tony Alfaro are the highest choices to interchange Hines-Ike and companion with captain Steven Birnbaum in central protection.

Groups are allowed to signal home and worldwide free brokers till the roster freeze Sept. 2.

Benteke joins a crowded group of forwards. Berry and Ola Kamara have alternated because the starter at striker whereas Michael Estrada and Nigel Robertha haven’t even been in uniform recently.

Neither Kamara (seven objectives and one help in 20 appearances) nor Estrada (4 objectives and 4 assists in 16 video games) is anticipated to return subsequent season. Kamara’s $1.5 million contract expires this winter and Estrada is on mortgage from Mexican membership Toluca.

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