After winning the Italian title last term, Juventus have returned to the big leagues after a period in the wilderness in the aftermath of the Calciopoli scandal back in 2006. The result is that they have targeted the acquisition of a quality striker this summer upon their return to the Champions League, with Arsenal’s Robin van Persie and Liverpool’s Luis Suarez at the top of their shopping list, but should the Merseyside outfit be willing to listen to offers for the Uruguayan?
Suarez has already entered preliminary talks over extending his contract at the club past 2016, with new boss Brendan Rodgers keen to tie him down to an even longer deal. So in that respect, there is no overriding need to do a deal from the club’s point of view and the 25-year-old still has plenty to offer the side.
Since arriving from Ajax in January 2010 for a fee of £23m, though, Suarez has been something of a controversial figure both on and off the pitch. Whatever your thoughts on the outcome of the Patrice Evra racism case, the fact of the matter is that incidents like this, although admittedly not quite as extreme, have dogged the Uruguayan’s career and he seriously harmed the club’s image last term with his antics.
Sir Alex Ferguson stated last week that backing Suarez in the manner that he did ultimately cost Kenny Dalglish his job this summer. It’s yet another sweeping statement of Ferguson’s designed to create panic and stoke the fires ahead of the new season, kicking an old adversary while he’s down so to speak, but there’s some credence at least to the sentiment.
Ian Cotton, Kenny Dalglish, Dirk Kuyt and Damien Comolli have all left the club since the outcome of the case – the club’s Communications Director, the manager and the player and sporting director upon whose conflicting evidence Suarez was convicted. It’s like the final scene in The Godfather, and a real purging of anyone associated with the incident, aside from the clearly deemed valuable Suarez, has certainly taken place.
Juventus are believed to be prepared to offer something in the region of £28m for Suarez, which doesn’t seem too far off his realistic valuation. Liverpool, as they always do it would appear, slightly overpaid for Suarez when they first bought him, which obviously inflates his sell-on price, but a bid around the £35m mark should be seriously looked at if it ever comes in.
It is a period of transition at Anfield this summer under Rodgers and as such, now is the best time to make sweeping changes – out with the old and in with the new. Suarez does fit into the style of play that the new boss is aiming for, but his finishing can at times leave a lot to be desired and if he does stay, he will need to put an end to his profligate ways, particularly if he occupies that crucial central role in a 4-3-3 as opposed to coming in off the left flank from out wide.
You always get the feeling with Suarez that he should score more, simply because of the sheer amount of chances and space that he manages to create for himself. No club wants to get into the habit of selling off their best players, but to combat the side’s lack of goalscoring prowess, it may be worth considering.
Robert Lewandowksi and Edinson Cavani would both be available for less than the aforementioned fee for Suarez and both have decent goalscoring records of late, while Klaas-Jan Huntelaar would surely jump at the chance to test himself in a bigger league once again, after frustrating spells in Italy and Spain with both AC Milan and Real Madrid.
It’s not an ideal situation, granted, but how much more is Suarez realistically ever going to be worth? Very few players actually warrant a valuation upwards of £40m and the Uruguay centre-forward simply doesn’t score enough to come into that category, much in the same way Luka Modric doesn’t either.
It’s far from a period of austerity at Anfield this summer, but the club have certainly reigned in their transfer budget and Rodgers will have to sell before he buys – as highlighted by Alberto Aquilani being moved on to Fiorentina to help generate the funds needed for the Joe Allen move from Swansea.
Selling the club’s most creative player isn’t the best way to kick off a season, but if he is replaced properly, for the money mentioned, you could potentially get both a guaranteed goalscorer and another creative midfielder, with his international team-mate Gaston Ramirez displaying decent form this past season or so and during the Olympic Games so far.
Advocating any sale would have to be done on the basis that a replacement or two have already been lined up, otherwise the club will leave themselves short going into the new season, but there have been many times throughout footballing history where a club have strengthened for the greater good in the aftermath of a big sale, with the Zinedine Zidane move to Real Madrid from Juventus serving as a prime example.
The Frenchman moved to the Spanish giants for a then world record fee of £46.5m back in 2001. This move then helped to free up the funds which helped the club to sign Pavel Nedved, Lillian Thuram and Gianluigi Buffon that summer as they went on to win to clinch the league title in 2001-2. These three players helped form the spine of the side for the best part of the next five years – a large fee for Suarez could help facilitate a similar shift.
Nobody is for a second doubting Suarez’s quality and importance to this current Liverpool side, but as Rodgers has been keen to highlight over the whole Andy Carroll debacle, every player has their price. Any deal would have to be done on Liverpool’s terms and the club is in a strong bargaining position, unwilling to be bullied and with no pressing need to sell, but in terms of the overall shape and strength in depth of the squad going forward, it’s certainly an idea worthy of consideration.
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