FourFourTom debates the Luis Suarez situation at Liverpool and suggests two players who could replace him IF he decides to leave…
If you were to extend the question ‘Is Luis Suarez a world class footballer?’ to a room of neutral football fans, the divide would be almost inexplicable. In the minds of half of the room he’d be regarded as a supremely talented and almost otherwordly footballer, whilst the other half would use the cloud of negatives surrounding him off the field to somehow make a case that he isn’t a fantastic player on it.
There doesn’t seem to be any kind of middle ground – and I believe Suarez thrives on that.
Based on the past 12 months for both club and country it’s impossible to argue his credentials as a top class player and, if it were up to me, he’d be handed the Premier League Player Of The Year award without a second thought. The problem here for Liverpool is that world-class players want to be competing against world class opposition and winning the biggest trophies with the biggest clubs, not finishing 7th or 8th.
Liverpool are rebuilding
Whilst Liverpool are a massive club, they’re going through a rebuilding phase and aren’t matching up to the level at which the Uruguayan should be playing. In my opinion, playing for Liverpool is holding him back. If he was to move to Bayern Munich, for example, it’s likely he’d win every trophy on offer within the next three seasons.
Where this debate gets really interesting, though, is if you consider this: is Suarez possibly holding Liverpool back in the same way?
Don’t get me wrong and think I’m questioning Suarez’s contribution to the Liverpool team here, because that’s one thing I’m certainly not doing. If anything, I’m suggesting he’s perhaps expected to do too much.
As I mentioned previously, Liverpool are rebuilding after a few disappointing seasons. The additions of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho have proved to be astute purchases and have added much-needed dynamism in the final third, but they still seem far too dependent on Suarez creating a moment of magic.
When you’ve got a player of such enormous quality the temptation is always to play through them too much, which can ultimately prove detrimental to the team as a unit. A good example of this is Zlatan Ibrahimovic (pictured above) with the Swedish national team – despite him being a national icon, many Swedes believe the team play better football when their tactics don’t just involve getting the ball to Zlatan.
It’s safe to assume Liverpool would receive a massive fee if they were to sell, but it’s unrealistic to think they could go out and splash this money on a replacement of equal quality. They have a rare breed of player in Suarez as he’s both a top class scorer and creator, which makes it incredibly difficult to replace him with one player.
Reds should look again to Eredivisie
For this reason, it could be advantageous for the balance of the team to bring in one player for each distinct role, rather than one player who does everything. To find these two players, Liverpool should be looking exactly where they found Suarez back in 2011 – the Eredivisie.
Ajax’s highly-rated Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen has been heavily linked recently and the fact his contract is running down means his club have to sell him on the cheap to avoid losing him for nothing. His price has been reported as around £15million, which is an absolute steal. Couple Eriksen’s creativity and guile in the centre of the pitch with a crafty wide man who’s capable of getting on the scoresheet and it’s arguable that Liverpool could actually benefit from letting Suarez go. If you were to ask me to name a player for the wide role, I’d go for PSV’s Dries Mertens, who has 13 goals and 14 assists in 27 appearances this season and scored 21 goals in the 2011/2012 season.
The beauty of looking to the Eredivisie is that the wages of top players are miniscule in comparison to those of players in Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, etc, but they’re still more than capable of improving Liverpool’s team. Over the past decade or so, Liverpool have brought some of their best players in from the Netherlands – the likes of Jerzy Dudek, Dirk Kuyt and Sami Hyypia, to name a few.
The dream for Liverpool…
Obviously the dream scenario for Liverpool is to keep hold of their star man Suarez, as well as adding a player such as Eriksen or Mertens to alleviate the weight on his shoulders, but the fact remains that Suarez is too good to be playing outside the Champions League. The call of one of Europe’s top clubs may be too much to resist. Whether they keep him or not, I believe Liverpool have the potential to come back as a stronger side next season and could even get back into the mixer for the much sought-after Champions League places.