Barcelona’s humiliating 8-2 defeat against Bayern Munich is expected to have big repercussions in the transfer window, as several of the Spanish club’s old-guard could leave for fresh blood.
One of the players who may not be with them come the 2020-21 season is Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan, now 33, has had a successful spell at Camp Nou, but a report by RAC1 claims that new Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman does not have him in his plans.
Now, even though Suarez is in the twilight of his career, he is still a top player, and is perhaps even better at the shithousery that is he infamous for. Despite everything that has been said of this Barcelona team, let’s not forget that some of the decisions that went behind the scenes aided the downfall post the lockdown.
The team has been dubbed as a group of has-beens, but the tactical inefficiency of the managers at the helm cannot be ignored. Suarez, for instance, managed 16 goals in the Spanish Primera Division; a pretty good return.
Inevitably, there has been a lot of talk on Social Media about Suarez’s potential return to Liverpool. Just how practical would it be for the Reds, who have been extremely cautious in the transfer window so far this summer?
Luis Suarez to Liverpool – An imperfect fit
Suarez was a player the Liverpool fans adored during his spell at Anfield, and even stuck with him when he had his moments of controversy.
The biting incident (involving Branislav Ivanovic), the racial abuse of Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, and the infamous transfer request that saw him train alone for a period under Brendan Rodgers; despite his good performances on the pitch, he sometimes made it hard for the Liverpudlians to like him.
The return of the prodigal son makes little sense, despite his incredible stats – 198 goals in 283 games for Barcelona — in recent years. Liverpool, under Jurgen Klopp, have headed in a new direction, and no longer have room for players of Suarez’s ilk.
Tactically, Suarez’s arrival would upset the applecart. Liverpool’s system relies on Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah doing the bulk of the goal-scoring, often acting as inside forwards. Roberto Firmino is the one who stitches the play together, often acting as the creator in a centre-forward role.
Both Suarez and Firmino have the ability to pick out their teammates, but will the Uruguayan be content to play the role that Bobby does? Firmino is perhaps the most unselfish forward in world football at the moment, and his chemistry with the likes of Salah, Mane, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson makes Liverpool’s attack tick.
Suarez has played in a different setup at Barcelona, and has that ruthless streak about him. He might end up with more goals than Firmino, but will the collective stats of Liverpool’s attack improve?
Firmino managed an average of 1.4 key passes, and 31.6 passes a game last season in all competitions. Suarez, on the other hand, mustered 1.1 key passes and 23.8 passes on an average; he passed it less often, even in the possession and pass-oriented outfit of Barcelona. The Uruguayan also averaged a higher shots per game ratio than Firmino last season, which proves the point that he is not as unselfish a player as Firmino. (Stats via Whoscored)
Suarez is also no longer the spry 26-year old who can hurry defenders and win the ball back as he used to some years ago in the Premier League. So, would he be the right option without the same work-rate and tenacity?
It’s clear that Liverpool need a good backup for Firmino, someone who can stitch play and bring the wide forwards into the game more. Liverpool’s attacking trio did not have too many issues with injuries last season, but with more games in a shorter period of time next season, that could become an issue.
Having said that, Takumi Minamino has a lot more playing time behind him, and could step in to take up the mantle. There is no question, though, that they will need more backup to challenge on all fronts next season.
Suarez’s arrival would perhaps give Klopp a different way to approach games. There were a few games last season where Liverpool had to rely on last gasp goals. Could a stronger squad with Suarez make them more ruthless? Possibly. But will he be happy with a backup role? Possibly not.
And then there’s the subject of his wages. Suarez earns a massive £290k a week in wages, which is considerably higher than everyone in the present Liverpool squad.
The club have already hinted that they will not spend big money in the transfer window this time, so even if they manage to get Suarez for cheap – his contract runs till 2021 – his wages will be a massive stumbling block. Paying a 33-year old a massive sum of money goes against everything Liverpool have done in recent years, even more so if you take into account the current situation following the covid19 outbreak.
Winning the league title after 30 years coupled with a new kit deal with Nike has given the Reds a cash injection, but the Reds under Michael Edwards have approached the market in a smarter way than most other clubs.
The clubs who finished immediately below Liverpool are strengthening their playing XI this summer, so reuniting with Suarez would seem like a tempting prospect. However, Liverpool’s success has been built on not making decisions in a nutshell, so it is unlikely the Reds will make a move for Suarez.