By Andrew Fanko (Arisesirrafa).
The final third is the area where we have seen the most improvement under Rodgers, so is it even more crucial to keep this bit of the squad intact? Or perhaps it wouldn’t be the end of the world if a couple depart.
It’s interesting to note that only Suárez featured in this article last year – evidence of just how much Rodgers has overhauled Liverpool (successfully) as an attacking force.
NB: Remember I’m only featuring players who made at least five competitive starts for the Reds’ first team in 2012/2013. PPG = points per game when starts; PGD/90 = personal goal difference (net goals scored by the team when that player is on pitch) per 90 minutes.
Luis Suárez / Age on 1 September 2013: 26 / Contract expires: 2018 (est.)
2011/12: Starts: 37 / Sub apps: 2 / PPG: 1.54 / Win%: 43.2% / PGD/90: 0.58 / Goals: 17 / Assists: 9
2012/13: Starts: 40 / Sub apps: 4 / PPG: 1.53 / Win%: 40% / PGD/90: 0.48 / Goals: 30 / Assists: 11
Reasons to keep: Quite simply, Suárez is one of the best players in the world. He makes something happen almost every time he gets the ball and strikes fear into the opposition. He is technically sublime, and there are few players in the world who can do as much with a football as he can.
The Uruguayan’s movement, touch, balance and quick feet allow him to do things others wouldn’t even contemplate and get out of tight situations that look like a lost cause. I’d bet that most Premier League defenders would name Suárez first on a list of people they’d rather avoid playing against, and that is a mighty strong argument for keeping him.
All this was true of Suárez in 2011/12, but last year he also became significantly more clinical in front of goal. There were concerns that he would never be prolific, but I said at this time last year that I’d be “amazed if [he] doesn’t score 25 goals” in 2012/13, simply because he creates such a ridiculous number of chances. He actually surpassed that, reaching 30 by mid-April. His penalty-box finishing improved considerably, and he again showed that he is able to score all sorts of goals, including free-kicks.
Suárez’s biggest asset, though, is his sheer will to win. He plays every minute of every game as if it were his last, and will stop at nothing to try and ensure that his team wins. I honestly think we’d walk the Premier League if we had five or six players of that ilk, with a furious and incessant desire to emerge victorious.
With Coutinho and Sturridge arriving to provide two more genuinely top-class options in the final third, we should surely be looking to kick on and break into the top four. Can we really expect to do that by selling our best player?
Reasons to offload: First and foremost, Suárez no longer wants to play for Liverpool Football Club. That much is clear, and it would surely be harmful to the club to keep him here against his will. His performances will suffer, the atmosphere at the club will suffer and results will inevitably suffer.
Even if the Uruguayan hadn’t repeatedly expressed a desire to leave, there would still have been a strong case to sell him. As football fans, we love to defend our own; it’s part of the tribal nature of the game. But although the treatment of Suárez has been too severe in some quarters, so has our defence of him. Let’s not beat around the bush: when he crosses the white line, Suárez transforms into a nasty piece of work. As is so often the case, his biggest strength (in this case, the burning desire to win) is also his biggest weakness. He niggles, dives, moans and abuses officials, but worst of all he is unable to control his emotions in the heat of the moment and has a tendency to react violently. His actions over the last two years have unquestionably brought chaos, disruption, embarrassment and shame upon Liverpool Football Club, and that is reason enough to dispose of him.
People said that the successful results at the end of last season weren’t a big enough sample to claim we’d be better off without Suárez. I’d agree with that, but surely two seasons in a row of the team getting better results in his absence (which is the case, believe it or not) is sufficient proof that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if El Pistolero departed for foreign climes this summer.
Whether it’s Real Madrid or another European powerhouse, the fee for Suárez will surely be north of £40m. With the new transfer committee making a promising start, they should be trusted to spend that wisely.
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