7 Premier League strikers whose form nosedived as badly as Christian Benteke’s

Yes, there have been worse declines!

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Christian Benteke can be forgiven for not quite knowing what has happened to him.

When the Belgian drew another blank in his substitute appearance for Crystal Palace against Wolves, it marked five months without a single Premier League goal, and one goal in nearly a year in a half.

After scoring 42 goals in 89 games for Aston Villa when he first moved to England, Benteke has found himself on a run of one goal in 28 outings for the Eagles.

But, he’s by no means the first striker to experience that kind of horrifying drop-off.

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Fernando Torres

We know now that Torres probably shouldn’t have been rushed back for the 2010 World Cup. We sort of knew it at the time if we’re being honest, but the Spaniard’s decline was no less sad for having an identifiable cause.

The most important thing Torres did after that World Cup was save his last great Liverpool appearance for a game against Chelsea, prompting the Blues to fork out £50m for him and hand him a long-term contract.

Immediately after completing the move though, Torres proceeded to score just once in his first 18 games (against West Ham, if you’re looking for a good omen, Christian).

After that, he returned to being a 5-10 goal per season striker. Still not the same for someone who was once among the best in the world, though.

Saido Berahino

Berahino wasn’t linked with a move to Spurs and called up by England by accident – the former West Brom striker was unplayable at times in the 2014-15 season and felt a move to Spurs was what his form deserved. West Brom’s money men disagreed, and it’s fair to say it affected him.

Perhaps Tony Pulis half-expected Berahino to leave when he pushed for the signing of Salomón Rondón in 2015, perhaps not, but it ensured the young England prospect was no longer the focal point of the attack.

He scored seven goals in all competitions in 2015-16, but none after February and two penalty misses in a loss at home to Watford in April only offered the slightest hint of how things would turn out.

Even moving to Stoke in January 2017 wasn’t enough to lift the curse: by the time he next found the net, it was August 2018, more than 900 days on from his last goal. Stoke had been relegated, Berahino had declared for Burundi after giving up on his England international dream, and Spurs – having missed out on him in 2015 – had signed Vincent Janssen and Fernando Llorente for a combined £33m in an effort to plug their attacking gaps.

At least Berahino is doing better now, scoring three in his first four games for Zulte-Waregem in Belgium.

Roberto Soldado

Speaking of Spurs strikers, there’s no guarantee Berahino would have thrived in North London considering Soldado’s struggles.

The Spaniard arrived off the back of 81 goals in three seasons at Valencia and was expected to be more of a sure thing than some of the other arrivals in the summer Gareth Bale left for Real Madrid, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth.

He started well, at least, scoring four in his first three games, but as soon as 2013 ended and 2014 began it was like he forgot how to find the net.

One goal in the last 11 league games of that season was followed by one in 24 the following year under Mauricio Pochettino, though he at least had a handful of cup strikes to make the stats page look slightly less bad.

He’s now playing for Granada and scored on the opening day of the Spanish league season. We’ll check back in May in an effort to catch number two.

Benni McCarthy

Like Benteke, McCarthy hit the ground running in the Premier League.

The South African, who won the Champions League with José Mourinho’s Porto, hit 18 league goals in his first Blackburn season – only Didier Drogba scored more for anyone that year. However, after slowing down a little in the next two years, 2009-10 was when his form fell off a cliff.

Form and fitness limited his involvement that season and the next, both for Blackburn and West Ham United, but a goal at Wigan in December 2009 was his only Premier League strike in that year or the next.

McCarthy scored once in his final 27 league games, the last of which came against Blackburn for West Ham, and he was watching on from the sidelines as the Hammers finished bottom of the Premier League in 2011.

Rickie Lambert

It’s often normal for a striker’s goal return to suffer in their 30s, but Rickie Lambert looked like he’d be different.

The Scouser was a late bloomer, playing in the second tier until he had turned 29. But 28 goals in his first two Premier League seasons demonstrated he wasn’t a flash in the pan. Or at least it was supposed to.

He even earned World Cup minutes for England and a dream move to Liverpool, at which point it felt like something clicked in his mind to say “okay, we’ve completed football now, no need to keep doing what you were doing”.

In 45 Premier League games for Liverpool and West Brom, he scored twice, with one of them coming from the penalty spot. At least his Albion goal came against Leicester in October 2015, though, giving himself a shot at appearing in commemorative league title DVDs.

Radamel Falcao

Falcao: great for Porto, great for Monaco, great when he returned to Monaco. So, about that bit in the middle.

It genuinely felt like Monaco sent a bad body double to England in 2014, giving the real Falcao two years’ rest so he could come back fresher and help his team reach the Champions League semis in 2016. Fair play to them, if that’s what happened.

After scoring his fourth and final Manchester United goal in a win over Leicester in January 2015, the Colombian scored once – once! – in the next 18 months for United and Chelsea. That’s 25 games, if you were counting. No goals for Colombia in that time, either, which makes us think the body double was sent out for them too in order to avoid suspicion.

It took him five games to surpass that total back at Monaco, and he finished the 2016-17 season with 27 goals. See, fresher.

Amr Zaki

When Wigan signed Amr Zaki on loan in 2008, he was ranked as the world’s best striker by Fifa.

You might think that doesn’t mean anything, and you’d be right, but he made us believe the governing body might be onto something, however briefly, by scoring eight goals in his first 10 games for the Latics.

When added to his eight goals for Egypt in 2008, and his impressive record in front of goal for parent club Zamalek, he seemed like the real deal. Yet – as we maybe should have guessed – it didn’t last.

He got his shooting boots back upon returning to Zamalek, but after he left the club he netted just three times in three years as injuries and poor form took their toll.

Oh, and there was a loan spell at Hull City (six games, no goals) thrown into the mix too.

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