It’s not a pun, but it still feels good to write a cliche headline again.
So last week it was announced Pep Guardiola will take over as Bayern Munich’s new manager this summer. Several days later the rumors started to fly that Luis Suarez was high on the former Barcelona manager’s wishlist.
Suarez has never complained publicly about much of anything during his time at Anfield. Despite his unsavory (and not entirely undeserved) reputation, the Uruguayan forward has always worked hard and produced goals regularly for a club so desperately in need of offense on a regular basis. Even the most stubborn of haters can’t deny that Suarez is currently one of the world’s finest players. There’s no reason to think he’s unhappy with Liverpool.
But it’s hard to tune out completely when you hear talk of a transfer fee upward of 40 million.
No one can definitively say right that whether or not Pep wants Suarez with him at Bayern to the extent that he’d pay 40 million of any currency. But if that is the case and such an offer were to come through, Liverpool would be foolish not to at least listen. The mere thought of things playing out like that has led me to wonder just how far Liverpool’s stature in the international community has fallen. They’ve seen numerous world class players depart over the last few years for places like Barcelona (Javier Mascherano), Real Madrid (Xabi Alonso), and Chelsea (Fernando Torres). Steven Gerrard is the last remnant of the group that captured our hearts in Istanbul in 2005.
But Gerrard is growing old and weary. Luis Suarez has become the only other truly world class player to populate this new Liverpool squad trying to form a new identity under Brendan Rodgers. That identity is starting to take shape on the field. But what about off of it? Are Liverpool still one of the premier destinations in Europe? Or are they falling by the wayside? The answer will reveal itself if Bayern come calling for Suarez this summer.
It’s somewhat appropriate timing for such a question given the latest deals completed in the last week or so. Swansea City locked up their diamond-in-the-rough strike Michu to a new four year contract. Newcastle United continue to pillage the youth ranks in France. Queens Park Rangers are trying to spend their way out of relegation with the purchase of Loic Remy. Tottenham have snatched up Germany U-21 captain Lewis Holtby, who will join Spurs in the summer. Most recently we’ve seen Southampton defeat Liverpool head-to-head for the services of Vegard Forren and the Saints are reportedly about to outbid the Reds for Inter Milan maestro Philippe Coutinho. Oh, and I’m just now mentioning the Clint Dempsey fiasco.
If Suarez is sold this summer, is anyone convinced about the remaining talent at Liverpool going forward? Do we trust in Daniel Sturridge, Jonjo Shelvey, Jordan Henderson, and Fabio Borini to lead the charge back to European glory? I, for one, do not. If the goal is to ultimately get back to competing in the Champions League, then Suarez’s departure would make that task seem almost impossible. I’m not convinced Brendan Rodgers and John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group can come together and spend a significant transfer fee properly. I’m still not convinced Sturridge is worth 12 million pounds and he definitely can’t be the one who takes the torch from Gerrard.
But at this point everything is just speculation. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Suarez will stay and continue to try and carry this new Liverpool squad back to European competition. If does go, however, expect Liverpool to take a huge step back in terms of quality on the field and stature off it. A step so large, they may never be able to recover from it.
“Walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone!”