Benteke joins D.C. as a designated player on a two-and-a-half-year contract with a club option in 2025. The transfer fee has not yet been disclosed.
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"Christian is a top player who has played at the highest level for a long time," Wayne Rooney, D.C. United head coach, said. "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, 31, spent the last six seasons with Palace, scoring 37 goals in 177 league and cup appearances.
He has also spent time with Genk, Mechelen, Kortrijk and Standard Liege in his native Belgium, as well as Premier League sides Aston Villa and Liverpool. His most productive spell came with Villa from 2012-15, where he scored 49 goals in 101 league and cup appearances.
Benteke's arrival continues the midseason makeover under new manager Rooney. DCU recently acquired forward Miguel Berry, midfielder Ravel Morrison, midfielder Victor Palsson and goalkeeper David Ochoa in the last two weeks.
The move also means the team's current crop of forwards -- a group that includes Ola Kamara, Michael Estrada, Berry and Taxi Fountas -- will be competing to fit into Rooney's revamped frontline now that Benteke is on board.
"We've been working hard over the last few weeks to bring in talent to bolster our squad," Dave Kasper, D.C. United president of soccer operations, added. "Being able to bring in a world class player of Benteke's caliber is a huge testament to what's going on behind the scenes at the club and our ability to draw top talent globally.
"We have been extremely active in the transfer window bringing in six players and since Wayne Rooney's appointment as our Head Coach we believe we have made major steps in putting together a roster that can both make a push to finish this season strong and build a foundation for us moving forward."
Benteke has made 45 appearances for Belgium, scoring 18 goals. He was part of the squads that competed at Euro 2016 and Euro 2020. On both occasions Belgium reached the quarterfinals.