It should be considered the summer of continued build. There’s nothing else for it other than to carry on in the same form as this past January, while Liverpool will have no reservations about drawing the battle lines in order to keep Luis Suarez away from the clutches of the continent’s elite.
Its forward thinking – as it should be. What possible good can come from Liverpool parting with Luis Suarez, even if the player kicks up a fuss? The thing is, I don’t see Liverpool as an isolated club or example heading into this summer, and certainly not when looking back to last year. Yes, it will be a blow to lose a player like Suarez, not just because of his qualities but also because fans know what to expect from him. Talent? World-class status? Whatever. There’s comfort and familiarity in seeing Suarez in the starting XI.
And yet I don’t see the walls crumbling in the quest for the top four and beyond in the Premier League should Suarez leave. The importance here is that the owner and board are committed to staying well on course and replacing more than adequately when needed. For all that can be said about Suarez and how much he’s done for this club, literally pushing them forward on his own, there are players in world football who can come in carry the torch.
Liverpool may well find themselves in a similar situation to that of Atletico Madrid, with Diego Simeone well aware that Radamel Falcao could be playing his final handful of games for the club before a move this summer. The thing about Atletico is you don’t get a sense that there are nerves or a great deal of fear going into next season should Falcao leave. Atletico have been here before, from the heartbreak of losing Fernando Torres, to having to replace the production of Sergio Aguero and Diego Forlan. The club are not afraid to spend when needed, and there’s already promising talk that Galatasaray’s Burak Yilmaz could be at the top of the list to replace Falcao.
It’s about knowing where your strengths are and accepting that you are not currently one of Europe’s top guns. Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, and perhaps one or two others are at the zenith of European football. They don’t have to worry about their best players angling for a move (generally), and if it does come to that they’ll have a swarm of the world’s best talent talking up their credentials.
For Atletico, Diego Simeone is the key to future successes; it just would have been fantastic if Falcao was a sure bet to remain at the club for the next few years. Liverpool need to take on a similar line of thinking. It’s not to try and play down the value Suarez has, but rather to acknowledge that with the right ambition from within Liverpool, the club can continue building without going off the rails.
The position Liverpool are in is such that Suarez is not necessarily integral to a certain style of play. Brendan Rodgers has tinkered with formations and tactics and may still take some time to truly discover his preferred approach at Anfield. Liverpool is not an Ajax or Barcelona who have a set tradition which more or less goes untouched. For that, and fortunately, the talent pool becomes much wider if the club are willing to spend.
Is there much need to reel off all the players in the world who could come in and help Liverpool push on? Not really. But at this time the club should be looking toward teams like Porto and their star striker Jackson Martinez. The club are also looking at players from Ajax and Shakhtar Donetsk, which is hugely promising and will do a lot for their hopes of progressing.
I doubt I’d ever indulge in the fantasy idea that teams can’t attract good players without the guarantee of Champions League football, and for that I don’t consider Liverpool to be at a great disadvantage. Tradition and status holds far more value, as I doubt anyone would turn down Real Madrid should they fall out of the Champions League for a season. Liverpool only need to look at the deal that got them Luis Suarez in the first place and accept that deals like that can continue to be had. The signing of Coutinho was inspired, with the player’s talent and price tag immediately paying off. But in situations like the one Liverpool may find themselves in this summer, it is necessary to spend big and continue to show ambition to supporters, players and others in Europe.
The potential departure of Luis Suarez will be a great loss and a huge disappointment. Players will come and go, and that’s just the way football is. But Champions League semi-finalists Borussia Dortmund have certainly not felt the effects of losing Nuri Sahin and Shinji Kagawa in previous summers. It didn’t have to be about big transfer fees, but rather the club’s hierarchy firmly under one banner to ensure they remained on the same path. Liverpool’s house is not resting on the foundations of just one player.
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