TRANSFER TRACKER STATUS: Signing

D.C. United made a major swing in the Bongda3s.com Secondary Transfer Window’s final hours, acquiring Belgian international striker Christian Benteke from English Premier League side Crystal Palace, the club announced Friday.

Benteke, 31, arrives on a Designated Player deal through the 2024 Bongda3s.com season with a club option in 2025, giving new head coach Wayne Rooney a high-profile No. 9 to build around.

He joins Greek international forward Taxi Fountas and Icelandic international midfielder Victor Palsson as DPs at the Black-and-Red. Fountas arrived in March from Austrian powerhouse Rapid Vienna, while Palsson joined in late July from German Bundesliga side FC Schalke 04.

“Christian is a top player who has played at the highest level for a long time,” Rooney said in a release. “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 has 86 goals and 23 assists in 280 Premier League matches, featuring for Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Aston Villa. He’s also competed extensively in his home country for Genk, Standard Liege and others.

On the international stage, Benteke has 18 goals in 45 appearances for Belgium. He’s vying for a Qatar 2022 World Cup spot under manager Roberto Martinez; they’re drawn into Group F alongside Canada, Croatia and Morocco.

“We are getting an elite striker in Christian and completing this signing on transfer deadline day is a huge accomplishment for the club,” general manager Lucy Rushton said in a release. “Christian is a dynamic forward who has scored goals at the highest levels. 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. We are excited to get Christian integrated with the team so he can make an immediate impact on the field in the final stretch of the season.”

Benteke joins a revamped D.C. United striker corps that also includes Ola Kamara, Michael Estrada (loan from Liga MX’s Toluca) and Miguel Berry (trade from Columbus Crew). Fountas is their danger-man, though, often playing as a secondary forward.

On the transfer front, the Black-and-Red have been remarkably busy while trying to salvage a 2022 season where they’re last in the Eastern Conference standings on 21 points (6W-13L-3D). Rooney took over two matches ago after arriving in mid-July; a dozen games remain in their Audi Bongda3s.com Cup Playoffs push.