Liverpool FC forward Luis Suarez is reportedly a transfer target of Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini in January, but given the embarrassment of riches that the current Premier League champions already possess up front, and the dearth of striking options available to Brendan Rodgers in his squad, does the move really make all that much sense for either party? And should it ever go ahead, what impact would it likely have on the two clubs involved?
The tireless Uruguayan attacker has been in exceptional form this campaign, hitting 11 goals in 16 games across all competitions on his way to becoming the Premier League’s joint-top scorer alongside Manchester United striker Robin van Persie. Whatever you may think of him, Suarez is a magnificent player capable of turning a game on its head in an instant and he comes with a proven international and European pedigree.
That he’s added goals to his natural game, after being far from prolific in his time in England so far, has only added to the sense that he’s absolutely vital to this Liverpool side and while all teams rely to an extent on their best players, Suarez has had a hand in either scoring or assisting 10 of the team’s 14 league goals so far this season, which only serves to drive home just how important he is.
When you approach it from Liverpool’s point of view, Rodgers assertion that he didn’t want to part company with Suarez because it would leave him with a lack of options certainly rings true.
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“If we lost Luiz then we’ve got no strikers, so I don’t think I want to lose anyone. He’s certainly not someone that we want to sell or move on. He’s been a brilliant player to work with and we want to add to our squad, not take people out of it. Especially a world-class player,” he said.
Cast your eye around the current squad at Anfield and it is by the club’s own manager’s choice of words ‘thin’, and padded out with promising youngsters such as Suso, Raheem Sterling and Samed Yesil. While Suarez may only be 25 years of age, he’s a senior member within the dressing room and his performances this season have demonstrated that he’s assumed responsibility as the team’s focal point and most integral player well.
There’s a suspicion that the rumour itself first germinated from a journalist with strong contacts to Liverpool in an attempt to drive up the player’s price, though, with The Sunday Mirror’s Simon Mullock tweeting: “Just had a call from a very senior source at MCFC. Been told there has been no move for Luis Suarez and there are no plans to bid. Lot of anger at the Etihad about being linked with Suarez. MCFC think LFC are trying to create a market for their most prized asset. Suarez story written by Merseyside-based reporters. Clearly briefed by LFC. What the motive is for misinformation is a matter of conjecture.”
Open to conjecture is just one way of putting it, but it’s an intriguing piece of information nonetheless which becomes particularly puzzling when you factor in that the player only just recently signed a new deal to prolong his stay at the club until 2018. At the time, it seemed like the deal was a real statement of commitment on Suarez’s part and his form reflects a man happy with his role, status and current surroundings.
The we have to approach it from Manchester City’s angle and with the likes of Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko in their forward ranks, any move for Suarez would have to be predicated on the assumption that one of those four would exit the club in January, with the Italian striker the current front-runner given Dzeko’s exploits as an extremely useful impact sub in recent months.
There’s also the fact that City will be mindful of trying to comply with Uefa’s Financial Fair Play rules which come into effect at the beginning of next season but take into account the previous year’s financial records. With Mancini retaining a long-standing interest in the likes of Stevan Jovetic, Radamel Falcao and Edinson Cavani, the balancing act may prove too tricky to pull off. Given that Suarez originally cost Liverpool £22.7m back in 2011 and his stock has risen dramatically since then in a footballing context, a figure of around £40m is not out of the realms of possibility, especially considering Rodgers reluctance to sell, which would make the move even more unlikely.
Inevitably, the word ‘baggage’ must also be mentioned, for Suarez and controversy appear to go hand in hand, and for a club trying to make a name for themselves in the global market, recruiting a player who has served match bans in two different countries, one for racial abuse and the other for biting another player hardly embodies the sort of image that the club wants to project to a worldwide audience. Liverpool staked a good measure of their positive reputation on Suarez during the whole racism scandal last season and City would be unlikely to do the same should the occasion call for it further down the line.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that despite struggling to hit top gear so far this season, that City are still unbeaten in the league from their opening 11 games, the only team in the top flight to do so. While a return of 20 goals is far from fantastic, it’s been enough to keep them within touching distance of rivals United and ahead of Chelsea, and all without the side firing on all cylinders, so there’s really no pressing need to bring in another attacker.
Where the side could do with a little help is in the creativity department and the side have missed the presence of David Silva’s constant probing passing and intelligent use of the ball hugely in recent times. He could certainly do with another player capable of supporting him and sharing the load over the course of a long and arduous campaign.
That Suarez has already created 33 chances for his team mates this season is worth keeping an eye on, mind you – this is more than Samir Nasri (18 chances in eight league appearances), Carlos Tevez (19 chance in 11 league appearances) and Yaya Toure (19 chances in 11 league appearances) have set up for their side so far. With the Uruguayan, you get a lot more than just a goalscorer, more a versatile, enigmatic and consistent attacking threat and Mancini could have an eye on placing him an altogether deeper role, while simultaneously offering him something Liverpool simply can’t – regular Champions League football.
Should any proposed deal eventually materialise, which for the reasons outlined above is slim in my eyes, then it would have a catastrophic effect on the shape, balance and strength of the current Liverpool side. However, at the same time, while a move for Suarez would undoubtedly improve Manchester City’s squad, there’s no guarantee that he’d be able to force his way past the formidable strike partnership of Aguero and Tevez.
When you acknowledge the motivations behind each party involved in this story, which has come something out of left-field in recent days, coupled with the financial implications, it simply doesn’t add up. Liverpool don’t need to sell and won’t be forced to, while City have more than enough to progress as they are without staking a large financial risk on a somewhat divisive figure. This story has legs in terms of rumour, but when it comes to substance, it simply doesn’t add up.
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