With Luis Suarez seemingly setting up a move away from Anfield with his recent comments, Liverpool are being linked with a host of possible replacements.
Following his latest lengthy ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic the Uruguayan appears to be fed up with all the negative attention he receives from the British media. What is the world coming to when a professional athlete can’t bite a colleague with everyone acting like he’s bitten someone?
“It’s a good moment for a change of environment because of all I’ve been through.”
Real Madrid are reported to be interested in Suarez following his 30-goal season for the Reds. With the fee expected to be as high as £50m, Liverpool would make a healthy profit on the the £22.8m they paid Ajax in 2011. It would also hand Brendan Rodgers a healthy purse to find a replacement. Here’s a look at five of the more likely options.
1. David Villa
The Spanish international looks set to end his spell at the Camp Nou following several transfer windows of rumors. After three seasons of living in the shadow of Lionel Messi the under-appreciated striker is seeking a new challenge as he enters the latter stages of his career. Although at 31-years of age he may not fit the club’s transfer policy he remains one of the best and most consistent goalscorers in the world. With an expected price tag of about £15m Rodgers could well convince the paymasters of his merits. Whoever lands his signature is getting one hell of a player.
2. Gonzalo Higuain
Real Madrid’s prolific Argentine has already announced he’ll leave the Spanish side this summer, suggesting Juventus is his most likely destination. Despite not always being first choice during his time at the Bernabeu, Higuain has scored 106 goals in 188 league games. At 25 there’s still room for improvement. He doesn’t offer the all round play of Suarez but if you’re looking for someoen to stick the ball in the back of the net the Argentine is a great choice. He won’t come cheap and Liverpool may have to pay over the odds if his mind is already set on Italy.
3. Christian Benteke
Unlikely to be viewed as direct replacement, the Belgian striker showed enough this season, scoring 19 league goals, to suggest he should be playing at a bigger club than Aston Villa. He’ll also be comparatively cheaper than other options at somewhere in the £10-15m range. Combined with being just 22-years of age he’ll be a tempting prospect for a club looking to buy young and develop.
4. Luis Muriel
Strong, fast and skillful the 22-year old Colombian shared the Serie A young player of the year award with Stephan El Shaarawy last season whilst on-loan at Lecce. He returned to Udinese this season and has impressed with his eye for goal. He has the technique to fit in to Brendan Rodgers’ style of play whilst also possessing the speed and power to play more directly when necessary. He cost Udinese £1.5m in 2010 but after last season’s displays he is likely to cost Liverpool somewhere around the £20m mark. Young enough to please the club’s owners and more exciting enough to please the fans.
5. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
After failing to make the break-through at AC Milan, Gabon sriker Aubameyang finally found his feet in Ligue 1 with St Etienne. He has been consistent over the last two seasons, scoring 39 goals in 82 games, and coming from France he’ll be more adept at dealing with the Premier League’s physical style. He has hinted at leaving the French side and at £10m or so and at 23-years of age he ticks a lot of boxes.