It feels as if every rumour that places Luis Suarez away from Anfield was irremediably linked to the bite incident with Branislav Ivanovic in the Premier League clash against Chelsea. However, as much as the idea of Liverpool selling their main star could seem unthinkable without being explained by his misconducts, giving up on the Kop idol could be argued by purely sporting reasons, as life without the striker could bring better days to come for Brendan Rodgers’ side.
It cannot be denied the infamous bite is one more reason to add to the list of reasons Liverpool could have to sell Suarez. The unjustifiable action by the Uruguayan has been seen by many as the straw that broke the camel’s back, a reason to open the exit door and send a double message: there is an ethic code to follow at the club, and no one is indispensable. Selling Suarez could be seen as a good gesture by a league that, putting the Anfield club aside, seem to have run out of patience with the striker – Suarez’s name being booed at the PFA ceremony is a self-explanatory argument.
If we merely assess him as a footballer, more than one would think it would be a suicide to sell him. He has been outstanding for Liverpool, bagging 23 league goals and providing 10 assists, being involved in half of the team goals. He has won games by himself and showed up when the team needed him. Why sell him then?
Well, it is precisely that dependency on Suarez what could be holding Liverpool back from being a better team, a better squad. As much as he is being helpful, the team results inevitably rest, to an extend, on how inspired Suarez is on that day, with all the consequences that imply. The first and more obvious one: if the 26 year-old has a bad day, Liverpool see their chances of winning notably undermined.
There is a second consequence of building a team around one player, and that is that the team becomes more predictable. Regardless formations, tactics or the talent of the rest of the squad, players inevitably will try to find that star and rely on him when in need of inspiration, to the point of trying to find him too often. That is exactly why sometimes we have the impression that Liverpool play better without Suarez, Real without Ronaldo or Sweden without Ibrahimovic, to give some examples. The teams lack that focal point and therefore use a wider range of options when building up the attack.
Does that mean Liverpool are better without Luis Suarez? Of course not. The fact that the winning rate in the few games Suarez has not featured this season is much better than the rate in the game he has, is nothing else than a happy coincidence, and it would be cynical to defend the opposite. If anything, the rest of the players let out a better version of them, but no one would dare leaving the Uruguayan on the bench if Liverpool faced a crunch game that could decide a title, for example.
However, would Liverpool be a better team if Suarez’s was cashed in and his value was wisely invested in making a more solid and even team? Quite possibly. Of course, suggesting the possibility of selling the Reds’ striker is not an invitation to find a like for like replacement, mainly because it’s practically impossible to sign another player of his quality. Spending the income in three or four signings that come to improve three or four positions, though, could really make an impact in the overall strength of the team.
It seems convenient to remind than, controversies aside, Suarez is one of the most desired players in the current market for the top European clubs. He could improve every single squad he would go to and Liverpool could take advantage of the amount of clubs interested in him to make the most of the sale. There are no doubts that a sum around £40 million, together with what the club is willing to spend this summer, could improve the team line by line and make of Liverpool’s starting XI a stronger team with a wider variety of options when facing the rivals.
Liverpool are going through a rebuild period, and a solid team is key to climb back to the top. Once there, it will be time to think of that player capable of winning games by himself. In the meantime, relying so much in one figure, although it can work, it’s probably much more of a risky option. There is no need for twisted thoughts of another hypothetical ban; simply imagining the scenario of Suarez suffering a serious injury and being left out for a whole season can draw an accurate picture of how heavily Liverpool’s aspirations could be affected by a stroke of bad luck.
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