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The stats that show exactly what Liverpool are losing with Luis Suarez's departure

Liverpool must avoid a similar scenario to what happened at Tottenham Hotspur when Gareth Bale left.

Whether you consider Luis Suarez a genius or a mad-man, there can be no doubting how big a loss he will be for Liverpool.

The Reds announced the news that Suarez was set to leave for Barcelona on Friday, and it leaves Liverpool’s position in the top four of the Premier League looking precarious.

While manager Brendan Rodgers has already utilised the old adage that no player is bigger than a club, Suarez’s value to Liverpool last season cannot be underestimated.

He was head and shoulders above any other player in the Premier League, driving his side forward through matches with his boundless energy, and he was the key reason that they maintained a title challenge for as long as they did.

Liverpool are back in the big time now, but without Suarez, their catalyst and protagonist, there must be a fear that the hunting pack below them will be able to breach the gap that was created last season.

Manchester United look set to be a different animal next campaign, with Louis van Gaal at the helm, and Spurs and Everton will continue to be threats to those looking to qualify for the Champions League.

Liverpool’s position in that top four looks the most vulnerable, with Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City all strengthening their squads over the summer, and it will take some masterful rebuilding from Rodgers if he is able to push his side to the same standard they were last season.

For it is not just goals that they are losing with Suarez, they are losing a talisman and a player who could strike fear into opposition defences.

Liverpool still have a credible front-line, with Daniel Sturridge and Rickie Lambert considered two of the Premier League’s finest marksmen, but both were far behind Suarez in almost every facet of the game last season, as shown in the table below.

  TeamPosGoalsGoal AssistTotal Scoring AttWon ContestAccurate PassTouchesBig Chance CreatedBig Chance MissedAppsMins
Luis Suarez Liverpool FW 31 12 181 93 946 2,152 22 14 33 2,964
Daniel Sturridge Liverpool FW 21 7 99 37 587 1,137 8 11 29 2,275
Rickie Lambert Southampton FW 13 10 103 9 775 1,532 13 7 37 2,816

Sturridge has a remarkable ability to be a predatory, but he was considerably less involved than his Urugayuan strike partner last season, and that is highlighted by the number of touches that they had.

While Sturridge was expected to play on the shoulder of the last defender and provide the last-minute runs for more creative outlets in Rodgers’ side to spot, Suarez was able to do that and drop deep – and he managed almost double the number of touches on the ball than the England international did.

Lambert also managed more time on the ball than his compatriot, but his threat is different to Suarez’s and to expect him to be a direct replacement for the outgoing star is naïve.

One area of Suarez’s game that is often overlooked – because of his goalscoring exploits – is his ability to create chances for others. Suarez came to Liverpool and could often be accused of being greedy but, although he still has a selfish streak in his game, that is something which he has developed at Anfield – as proved by the fact that he laid on 22 clear-cut chances for his red-shirted team-mates last campaign.

It all sets up a similar scenario to one that occurred at Tottenham Hotspur when Gareth Bale left to join Real Madrid last summer.

Spurs were arguably even more reliant on the Welsh superstar than Liverpool were on Suarez, but to lose such a prominent figure was a hammer blow and, despite Spurs’s extravagant spending, they could do little to stop Bale’s departure having a negative effect.

Indeed, in the 2012/13 campaign Bale’s stats were similar to Suarez’s in the sense that he was not only the scorer of goals, but also the provider and their most involved figure during matches.

  TeamPosGoalsGoal AssistTotal Scoring AttWon ContestAccurate PassTouchesBig Chance CreatedBig Chance MissedAppsMins
Gareth Bale Tottenham Hotspur MF 21 4 165 59 888 2,096 11 5 33 2,924

What Liverpool now must avoid is a similar scenario. There will undoubtedly be rumours of several high-profile acquisitions that Rodgers will be looking at, but the Northern Irishman must remain prudent with his transfers, despite the influx of money that has come into the club.

Even without Suarez, Liverpool’s squad in other areas is still strong and the added pressure that it will put on their burgeoning stars, such as the likes of Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho, may be what they need to thrive.

That said, there is almost certainly a need for another world-class striker to join Anfield now. As already shown, the current pair they have may offer a potent duo, but it is not one to be the axis of a genuine Champions League side.

Whoever they choose to sign, it will not be an easy task in replacement Suarez, though, and it will take some considerable courage to cope with the pressure. Identifying Liverpool’s next striker is unquestionably Rodgers’ toughest task to date, and it may well be one that defines his reign at Anfield.

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