Liverpool have been warned against attempting to prize Queens Park Rangers striker to Anfield in the summer by Reds legend Steve Nicol.
The former Liverpool defender believes that if Brendan Rodgers chooses to sign the Loftus Road forward, he could potentially flop – and referenced last summer’s English signing Adam Lallana.
Speaking to talkSPORT, Nicol admitted that the prospect of signing Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke is exciting, but Charlie Austin – not so much – as, he claims, the 25-year-old is yet to earn himself a big-money move.
“Charlie Austin scored so many goals for QPR, who were bottom of the league for most of the season. That means he has got talent. The question is, can you put the talent into Liverpool’s team?
“We thought when [Adam] Lallana came from Southampton, he has got ability, he has got skill, he has got a little bit of something different to other players, like Charlie has, but that hasn’t worked,” he added.
“He [Austin] is going to be another player that falls into the category of we need to wait and see. Liverpool need to sign players that from the get go we know what we are getting and we know they are going to drive the club forward from the situation they are in.”
Austin scored an impressive 18 goals for QPR this season during what was his debut campaign in England’s top flight. Only Diego Costa, Harry Kane and Golden Boot winner Sergio Aguero scored more – which highlights just how woeful Chris Ramsey’s side were.
Austin ended up scoring 43% of the west London side’s total goals in the top flight, but it was the defence that let them down. They fell to relegation with two games remaining of the Premier League campaign, and conceded 73 in their 38 game season.
This finish against Arsenal earlier in the season typifies the confidence that Austin has played with in a desperately poor team – not to mention his natural ability and desire in front of goal:
While Christian Benteke is also a rumoured target for Brendan Rodgers [Daily Star] in the summer transfer window, it’s interesting to compare the Belgian to Austin. Benteke, with 15 goals this term, has averaged 2.8 shots per-game, Austin – 3.7. To put this into perspective, Harry Kane has averaged 3.3. Had the Villa striker been on form all season, his figure would surely have been higher, but it still suggests he might not be the established forward that the Reds are yearning for – and shows that Austin has been the more consistent player.
Austin has proved this season that he certainly shouldn’t be playing in the Championship with QPR, which means he must look to move on in the summer and seek to remain in the Premier League. Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini are all on their way out of Anfield according to reports [via the Daily Mail], and there have been few more exciting and clinical finishers than the Hoops’ hit-man in the Premier League this term.
Perhaps this is simply a case of anxiety over a promising player who could wear the senior England shirt.