Luis Suarez’s move away from Liverpool now looks to be all but a formality. Negotiations between the Reds and Barcelona are at a very advanced stage, with reports indicating that a fee of close to £70m has been agreed, and that the ink may well be drying on the paperwork by Sunday evening.
After he hit 31 goals last season, losing ‘El Pistolero’ looks like a massive blow for the Merseysiders, who came so close to the league title with the best player in the division up top. Naturally many are speculating that without the 27-year-old the 24-year wait for the big trophy at Anfield will be extended, particularly with the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea and even Manchester United strengthening.
But, offloading Suarez may actually be one of the best moves Liverpool could make. After all, the feelings were similar when Fernando Torres went to Chelsea in 2011, and that worked out well… Here are six reasons we at FFC towers believes Brendan Rodgers’ side will actually benefit from letting the South American ‘bad boy’ leave…
Although Suarez got all of the plaudits last season for dragging Liverpool to within a whisker of the title, Sterling was, arguably, their top performer in the latter months of the campaign. In a central role the 19-year-old thrived, with his explosive speed and skill on the ball earning him much praise.
Without Suarez around the teenager could be handed more responsibility, which in turn might be enough to push him on to the next level. Sterling is undoubtedly one of English football’s top talents, and with the right nurturing and settled game time he could surpass the potential people have talked about for some time.
With Suarez the talisman, Sturridge often found himself operating from a wider position last season. The England international has the characteristics to work well on the flank (pace, trickery and stamina), but his finishing ability warrants a central berth.
Sturridge has often campaigned to be a main striker, and with Suarez out of the picture he would surely be the Reds’ main man.
Although all of the talk suggested that Liverpool wanted £80m, the reported £70m Barca are ready to pay is actually a massive amount for a player of Suarez’s age. In just a year and a half the Uruguayan will be 29, at which point his value will drop significantly as the months pass. Liverpool have, arguably, enjoyed Suarez’s peak years at Anfield, and the Reds are unlikely to get anywhere near the same figure if they hold on for another season.
£70m would also mark a massive profit on the £22.8m paid for his signature in 2011, which is a good advert for the ‘moneyball’ approach the Merseysiders’ owners like to work by.
As the grid shows, with all fees in £’s, Suarez would slot in as the third most expensive player of all time… Not bad business for a fella who’s banned for four months!
Although no modern football club can really get on their moral high horse with a lot of justification due to the levels of money and scandal in the game, Liverpool and their fans have a right to suggest Suarez’s actions have been bad for the club. In almost four years the 27-year-old has bitten three opponents, been accused of racial abuse towards another player, been charged for offensive gestures towards spectators and branded one of the worst ‘divers’ in the Premier League.
Like any club would have done, Liverpool stuck by their man, but in doing so their reputation has been dented, and this time it appears to have been a bridge too far.
The words of Robbie Fowler talking to talkSPORT:
“It’s a real, real tough predicament that most Liverpool fans are in. They love him as a player, but what he does, he’s continually dragging the club’s name through the mud.
“It’s not right, especially after what they did with him last time when they’ve come out and supported him and tried to rehabilitate him.”
With Suarez and Sturridge at his disposal, Rodgers was almost forced into picking the pair in central roles, which saw Liverpool’s team look unbalanced and top heavy at times last season. The nature of cramming so many attacking players into their XI often left the Reds exposed at the back, which in turn saw them concede the highest total of goals – 50 – in the top four.
Without Suarez, Sturridge could be used centrally alone with a supporting cast of stars such as Adam Lallana, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho, who would surely be more willing to track back and help out their defensive colleagues.
Before Suarez’s imminent exit Liverpool were rumoured to have had at least £60m to spend thanks to TV rights and Champions League income. With around £30m-£35m gone on signings, that means that a cautious estimate would suggest that Rodgers’ coffers are still at £60m with Suarez sold.
Numerous players are on the Reds’ radar – including the likes of Lazar Markovic, Divock Origi and Dejan Lovren – and with a few wise buys they could come out of the episode with a more balanced squad. Tottenham learned the hard way last term with Gareth Bale’s exit and a major spend, but with a little more nous Liverpool may be able to come out of the episode looking rosy.