OK, hear me out. I’m not that crazy. Yes, Luis Suarez was by some distance the Premier League’s best player last season. And maybe even the best the season before that. But his £75 million move to Barcelona that was officially announced today doesn’t have to be the doom and gloom for Liverpool that it may currently appear.
With his talisman on his way to Spain, Brendan Rodgers is tasked with partially rebuilding a side which was based around the mercurial talents of the Uruguayan. Not wholly based, but largely so.
As Champions League football looms on the horizon, and with any luck another charge at the Premier League title on the cards, there is much to be positive about ahead of the start of the 2014-15 season.
So with the positivity of last season’s success still fresh in the mind, here are FIVE reasons why losing Luis Suarez might not be as bad as it first appears.
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Brendan Rodgers has shown a preparedness to spend money so far this summer, with Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, and Emre Can all having been acquired. Liverpool were in the market for Alexis Sanchez before he opted for Arsenal, and are reportedly on the brink of signing Benfica’s talented winger, Lazar Markovic.
Obviously there is always the danger of splashing cash turning out to be as unsuccessful as Tottenham’s last summer. However, in Liverpool’s case, this is Rodgers himself spending the money, not a person disconnected from the first-team i.e. Franco Baldini at Spurs. Rodgers has a clear blueprint of how his team is to play, and the type of play who will fit into the side. He should be trusted with the cash.
When Luis Suarez was suspended at the beginning of last season it did little harm to Liverpool. Daniel Sturridge started the season off in fine form, scoring four in his first five league games. He averaged an outstanding 0.83 goals per 90 minutes last season, and began his Liverpool career averaging 0.79 the seasons before.
Sturridge is one of Europe’s most consistent proven goalscorers. With his pace and his sharpness, Sturridge thrives off the service given by the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Steven Gerrard. He will doubtless continue scoring next season, and with another season playing up front in his favoured position, Sturridge can continue improving. Suarez’s goals may have disappeared, but Sturridge’s haven’t.
There are few better managers in the Premier League at preparing his team tactically than Brendan Rodgers. The Liverpool boss chopped and changed between a variety of systems last season, most of the time proving greatly effective. Whilst Suarez was the lynchpin of Liverpool’s attacking success, the Northern Irishman will no doubt have a plan up his sleeve as to how he can adapt the side.
Few would have given Liverpool a chance of battling for the Premier League title last season, and whilst Suarez’s influence was a huge factor to the success, Rodgers is the main component. He’s turned Jordan Henderson into one of the Premier League’s most accomplished all-round midfielders, gotten Jon Flanagan an England call-up, and trounced Manchester United 3-0 at Old Trafford (amongst other successes). He has rightfully gained the trust of the Liverpool faithful, and he will continue delivering.
Whilst Suarez received widespread praise last season for his character ‘reformation’, there still always remained underlying fears that he was prone to lapses of discipline. His theatrics could well have seen him face more punishment than he did. His latest bite showed to everyone that Suarez’s temperament was just as unpredictable as ever.
Liverpool boast a good disciplinary record, with only one red card in the Premier League last season. All the controversy that Suarez has brought to Liverpool may just not be worth the effort at the end of the day. Suarez’s issues are now solely the concern of Barcelona.
The speculation surrounding Luis Suarez last summer, and his wholly unsavoury response to it all, undermined everything Rodgers was trying to build at the club, and was unsettling to all involved. Now, with the money in the bank and the Uruguayan out the door, speculation is no more.
Without the hubbub around the club of the past two summers, the club hierarchy can get to work on building the squad without the distraction of a want-away star player. Whilst having a player of Suarez’s calibre is unquestionably a big plus on the pitch, it can be have adverse affects when it comes to the summer.