Paul Merson claims Liverpool star is only thinking about his new club

By London correspondent Tony Hughes

Christian Benteke is counting down the days until next season and he can start afresh at a new club, according to Paul Merson.

The 25-year-old has had a difficult season since his move to Liverpool and has not started a Premier League match since the start of January.

Benteke launched a stinging attack on manager Jurgen Klopp during the international break for freezing him out at Anfield as he found himself at the bottom of the club’s forward pecking order.

Football Insider revealed last month that Benteke was on West Ham’s striker shortlist and co-owner David Sullivan responded by admitting his team’s interest but highlighting the player’s high wages as the main hurdle to a summer transfer.

Sky Sports pundit Merson is convinced that the Belgium international’s mind will be on the European Championships and finding a new club.

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“I think he just cannot wait for the season to finish,” Merson told the Soccer Saturday programme. “It’s one of those situations where he knows he won’t be there next season and his mind now is on the Euros.

“I didn’t like [Klopp’s criticism]. I think it’s disrespectful and there’s no need. The manager afterward will have probably sat down and thought ‘bad move’.”

Benteke, who became the second most expensive signing in Liverpool history when he joined from Aston Villa for £32.5million last July, has hit out at Klopp for consistently banishing him to the bench.

“Some team-mates have said that I was lucky with the arrival of Klopp, because I certainly would play,” said Benteke speaking to Belgian outlet Sport/Voetbalmagazine.

“When your coach says he wanted to take you to Dortmund and a little later you sit at the same club and he ignores you, it is hard to understand.”

Axe man: Benteke has paid the price for some static showings up front

Benteke was injured at the weekend as Liverpool drew 1-1 against Tottenham at Anfield and there are growing doubts about whether his knee problem will allow him to play again this season.

This has prompted speculation that he could have played his last game for the Merseysiders.

In other Liverpool news, the club are preparing for the departure of Adam Bogdan as they scour the market for a new goalkeeper this summer.