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Christian Benteke and the good and bad of Liverpool's No 9s

Liverpoool's Christian Benteke celebrates after scoring their first goal during the Pre-Season Friendly match at the County Ground, Swindon.
Image: Christian Benteke will wear the No 9 shirt at Liverpool.

Christian Benteke will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of some of Liverpool’s finest strikers after being handed the No 9 shirt at Anfield.

The £32.5m summer signing from Aston Villa, who scored on his debut against Swindon at the weekend, will take over the shirt from Rickie Lambert following his departure to West Brom.

As the Belgian prepares to lead the line for the Reds, we have taken a look at a few of the recent strikers at the club to wear the No 9, starting with the good and finishing with those who did not find the net quite so regularly...

Ian Rush

LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 15:  Liverpool players Sammy Lee (l) Ian Rush (c) and Phil Neal wave to the crowd
Image: Ian Rush is Liverpool's leading all-time scorer

Signed from Chester in 1980 for £300,000 (then a British record for a teenager), Rush would go on to become Liverpool’s all-time leading goalscorer and one of the club’s best-ever players.

Over two spells spanning 15 years, the Welsh striker netted 346 goals in all competitions and struck up a potent partnership with Kenny Dalglish.

In the double-winning season of 1982/83 they netted 50 goals between them while Rush finished as top scorer in nine seasons.

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He won the league five times with the Reds, the European Cup twice and the FA Cup on three occasions.

Robbie Fowler

21 Nov 1998:  Robbie Fowler of Liverpool celebrates after completing his hat trick against Aston Villa during the FA Carling Premiership match at Villa Par
Image: Robbie Fowler was nicknamed 'God' by Liverpool fans.

The sixth-highest goalscorer in Premier League history, Fowler came up through the ranks at Liverpool before instantly endearing himself to the fans by scoring five times on his Anfield debut against Fulham.

He finished as the club's leading scorer in his first season with 18 goals in all competitions and in 1994 scored the fastest hat-trick in Premier League history against Arsenal in four minutes and 33 seconds (a record that stood until last season).

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Christian Benteke scored this screamer on his Liverpool debut in a pre-season friendly against Swindon Town (video courtesy of LFCTV)

Nicknamed ‘God’ by the Liverpool fans, Fowler finished as the club’s fifth all-time top scorer with 183 goals in 369 appearances across two spells at the club.

He also took over the No 9 shirt from Rush when he left at the end of the 1995/96 season and Rush later said: "If he had stayed fit, I think he could have come close to beating my goalscoring record."

Fernando Torres

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 28:  Fernando Torres of Liverpool celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool
Image: Fernando Torres netted on his home debut against Chelsea.

Not quite in the echelons of Rush and Fowler, but Torres is still regarded as one of Liverpool’s finest No 9s.

After signing for a club record transfer fee, Torres immediately made an impression as he netted on his home debut against Chelsea.

'Benteke can be the difference'
'Benteke can be the difference'

Christian Benteke can help Liverpool finish fourth this season, believes club legend Ian Rush.

He finished his first season with 24 Premier League goals and reached the 50 mark faster than any other player for the club, achieving it in 72 games.

Even though he eventually left under a cloud to join Chelsea, Torres finished with 81 goals in 142 matches and is the last Liverpool player to regularly find the net in the No 9 shirt.

El-Hadji Diouf

LONDON - MARCH 16:  El-Hadji Diouf of Liverpool argues with Mauricio Taricco of Tottenham Hotspur during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match between Totte
Image: El-Hadji Diouf did not score a single goal in his second season.

Like Fowler and Torres, Diouf didn’t take long to find the net after joining Liverpool for £10m in 2002 as he netted twice on his Anfield debut.

However, it went downhill from there as the Senegal striker did not score again until March and was then handed a two-match ban for spitting at a fan.

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The following season he would not score a single goal as his popularity quickly waned with the Liverpool fans.

"He's the only No 9 ever to go through a whole season without scoring, in fact he's probably the only No 9 of any club to do that," said his former team-mate Jamie Carragher. "He has one of the worst strike-rates of any forward in Liverpool history."

Iago Aspas

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 16:  Iago Aspas of Liverpool in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old
Image: Iago Aspas struggled during his time at Liverpool

A No 9 whose ill-fated spell at Liverpool is best remembered for a terrible corner in the title-deciding defeat to Chelsea rather than the goals he scored.

The Spaniard actually enjoyed a decent pre-season with the Reds after joining from Celta Vigo in the summer of 2013, scoring four goals ahead of the new campaign.

However, it took him until January to notch his first, and only, competitive goal for the club against Oldham.

He had a chance to make a name for himself when he came on as a sub against Chelsea, but his corner that went straight out of play summed up Liverpool's disappointing day and Aspas' time at the club.

Andy Carroll

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 14:  Andy Carroll of Liverpool reacts after missing a chance during the FA Cup with Budweiser Semi Final match between Liverpool an
Image: Andy Carroll endured a disappointing spell at Anfield

Signed for a club-record fee of £35m in 2011, Carroll’s time at Anfield was a major disappointment.

He netted just 11 goals in 58 games, struggled with injuries and was eventually loaned out by Brendan Rodgers as he didn’t fit his philosophy.

For his part, Carroll said he "lost all respect" for Rodgers after leaving to go on loan to West Ham before joining on a permanent deal for £15m.

"He was telling me one thing to my face and then (would) ring me and tell me a different thing. He was messing with my head," he said.

"I thought, 'I just want to play football. I don’t need this'. I lost respect for him to be honest and knew it was time to go."

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