Former Liverpool striker, talkSPORT commentator and Bleacher Report columnist discusses the complexity of Luis Suarez’s situation.
While other participant members of the Premier League have been knocked out at various stages of the Champions League there is genuine excitement at the possibility of what Liverpool can offer providing there is a substantial recruitment drive at Anfield during the summer market so that Brendan Rodgers’ squad can be significantly bolstered.
Guided by the superb man management of Rodgers, the thrilling brand of football he enforces and of course the factor of rekindling European atmospheres at the Kop are just three of the factors to consider when assessing the club’s potential in Europe’s premier club tournament next season – and that is not even mentioning the destruction key attacker Luis Suarez could cause to defences across the continent.
The man has been ferocious. An animal. An unrelenting razor-clawed omnivore badgering away in the final third, producing 85 clear-cut chances (12 of which have turned into assists) and 30 goals.
He has an attacking efficiency of being responsible for affecting the scoreline once every 66 minutes he is on a Premier League field and is currently tied first on 60 points with Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo in the race for the Golden Boot – the most prolific goal-scorer in Europe.
There is no question that Suarez belongs on the grandest of stages, but will he be competing in the Champions League wearing Liverpool’s iconic red?
Former Liverpool striker Stan Collymore has his doubts, writing in his Bleacher Report column that: “Suarez has been brilliant for Liverpool, but there are now some very big questions to address.
“1. When Suarez signed a new deal was it the case that Liverpool agreed he could leave once they achieved Champions League football? 2. Are Liverpool already looking at alternatives for Suarez next season? 3. Would a club like Real Madrid be prepared to pay £85-£100m to sign Suarez this summer?
“My concern for Liverpool is this: Suarez has always wanted to play Champions League football—which he would get with them next season—but he’s also a player who likes to do things in a hurry. If he wants to play for a team capable of winning the Champions League, that means goodbye to Liverpool.
“They are three or four seasons away from being that.”
Suarez, at 27-years-old, is only just approaching his prime years as an athlete and as a striker, which means he could improve even further – especially under a manager who already knows him; Rodgers. But, as Collymore points out in the same article: “It’s far harder to score goals in England’s top flight than it is in La Liga,” meaning that even without enhancing his form, he would inevitably bang in more if competing in the Spanish division.
There are very few clubs Suarez could go to who would represent a genuine step-up in class. Arsenal – who were linked last summer – would be sideways at best, retrograde at worse, yet Liverpool would have to be smoking something to allow their asset to transfer to another Premier League club, meaning Paris Saint Germain, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid as the likely destinations.
One thing is for certain, regardless of any prospective price-tag and fee received by Liverpool – Suarez is valued at £46m by transfermarkt.co.uk and up to £100m by Collymore – the Premier League would be a far poorer product without him.