For months, Bayern Munich have been linked with Luis Suarez. But it seems this summer, the German club might turn that interest into a solid bid, after the Uruguayan confirmed he wants to leave Anfield. With the Reds asking for at least £40million, Bayern are reportedly ready to test Liverpool’s resolve with a player plus cash deal.
But surprisingly, the player being offered to Liverpool is Arjen Robben. Despite being the Champions League Final’s Man of the Match, Bayern look prepared to offer the winger to Liverpool in order to secure Suarez’s signature, or so The Sun reports. But are these reports realistic?
Robben has fallen out of favour with the treble-winning club, starting just 11 league matches and coming off the bench in another five games. With Tony Kroos, Xherdan Shaqiri and David Alaba all featuring for Bayern more than Robben did, Pep Guardiola could easily decide that one of his first actions as new manager is to get rid of the Dutch winger. Guardiola’s Barcelona were all about being a team, and played swift, passing football, something that Bayern’s Dutch winger rarely adheres to.
Robben, who has played for Chelsea and Real Madrid, has enjoyed his most successful spell with the Bavarian club, scoring 45 league goals in his four seasons at the Allianz. After winning his seventh domestic trophy with Bayern last weekend, Robben will most likely be hoping to stay with the Munich club, as long as he can get more game time. But if Guardiola is keen on Suarez, it seems Robben’s future in Germany may be out of his hands.
But would the deal suit Liverpool? Despite their firm stance that Suarez is not for sale, the club have never been one for keeping players at Anfield against their will, and are expected to sell the forward in the summer. Although Robben isn’t a like-for-like replacement for Suarez, the move could benefit Daniel Sturridge. Robben would play on the wing if he came to Anfield, allowing the English forward to play down the middle, in his preferred role. After always wanting to be Chelsea’s main striker, bringing Robben in would most likely grant Sturridge his wish, only in the red of Liverpool.
But Rodgers would need to think long and hard about whether Robben would suit the style of play he is trying to get his Liverpool side to play. Rodgers wants flowing, passing football, with keeping possession one of the key objectives. But Robben would arrive at Anfield with a reputation for being selfish and greedy. Despite getting an assist in the Champions League final, he has often been criticised for shooting, or attempting to dribble past defenders too often, when he could simply pass the ball to a teammate.
This sort of greedy football could upset a Liverpool squad, who have spent all season learning to work for each other, and use passing as a key to unlock the opposition’s defence. But Rodgers could change Robben’s attitude. Sturridge arrived at Melwood with a similar, but not as strong, image of being greedy, and too focused on going for goal than passing to his teammates. Yet the England striker has been a fantastic addition to Liverpool’s side, and seems to have a completely different attitude in a red shirt. Speaking to The Liverpool Echo, Sturridge said: “It’s great to score goals, but the main factor when I joined the club was just to help Liverpool move forward. If I score goals along the way then fantastic, if I get assists fantastic, but the main thing is for the team to get positive results and for us to come out of the season on a high.”
If Rodgers was able to transform Robben’s greedy persona into a unselfish, team-oriented image, then a swap deal would be very beneficial for Liverpool. It’s a big if, and the deal may swing on Rodgers’ belief in himself on whether he could mould Robben into a player suitable for the Northern Irishman’s team. With Liverpool looking at Celta Vigo striker Iago Aspas too, Rodgers wouldn’t just be relying on Sturridge, but would have Borini and Aspas available on the bench as well.
Bayern don’t seem too keen on the 29-year-old World Cup finalist anymore. He may well have played in the Champions League final, but he has still struggled to feature for the club in the Bundesliga. After picking up a back injury, Robben lost his place in the team to Tony Kroos, and only regained it when Kroos was injured himself. Despite being cleared to play, Robben was only given limited opportunities with Bayern this season, until injuries to his teammates opened up a space in the first team once more.
With his matches few and far between at Bayern, this deal could certainly be possible. If Bayern were to offer Robben and cash for Suarez, Rodgers would have to decide if he believes he is capable of getting the best out of the Dutchman, for the benefit of the team, or if the former Chelsea winger can’t be changed. Rodgers transformed Sturridge, so why not Robben?
Should Liverpool accept Robben and cash for Suarez, or would Bayern even offer that?
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