THANKFULLY, the complete cock-up from LFCTV in their announcement of Luis Suarez’s new contract on Tuesday morning was just a matter of timing, rather than facts.
Because if the star striker had, in fact, not signed a new contract, I think it would have been too much for me to take.
Over the past few summers I’ve become used to losing maybe one of my favourite/our better players but this summer we’ve already lost two in Maxi and Dirk. Agger looks likely to go too now but if Suarez had ended up switching Liverpool for Turin, I may not have been responsible for my actions, so it was with great relief and optimism that I greeted the news of Luis’s extension of his contract.
On the face of it, we’ve tied him down for his ‘best years’. If we have another bad season, there’s nothing stopping him from moving in the summer but there’s nothing to suggest he wants to leave just yet and in signing a new contract the indication is that he’s happy and has faith in the club’s plans going forward. The underlying benefits of this though amount to much more than just signing up our best player for the foreseeable future.
For one, it is a sign of intent. Far too often this summer Liverpool appears to have reverted to being a ‘selling club’, bleeding experienced and quality players left and right, so seeing our best player sign a new contract barely 18 months after joining the club signals that, despite stories to the contrary, we might still mean business this summer.
Secondly, it may well act as a stimulus for players like Agger, Skrtel and Reina (all players that have yet to definitively say they’re staying) to commit their futures, knowing that one of Europe’s best has committed to the club. Surely if Suarez sees a future for himself here then so can they?
But for me, one of the most important aspects of Luis signing up for another 4-5 years is the connection with Uruguay that it will help to solidify. Since the signing of Coates last summer, I’ve noticed a lot of transfer rumours and links to players from our star man’s home nation, and I couldn’t be happier. For me, Uruguay could be the new Spain; they have plenty of quality young players, a large pool of natural talent and a rich history of being one of the great football nations.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that he is Uruguay’s Messi, or Ronaldo, or even Maradona. Don’t for a second think I’m saying he is as good as these players but his star quality in his home nation makes him the player that all aspiring footballers want to be like; the player who’s poster kids have on their bedroom walls. And for Liverpool that kind of pulling power could be important for us over the next few years, effectively giving the Reds ‘dibs’ on any top young players coming out of Uruguay.
Of course, more immediately, it could help the signing of more established Uruguayan players already based in Europe. Most notably, Gaston Ramirez. I’ve counted four separate occasions in the past few weeks when ‘experts’ have announced that his signing was imminent. Nothing happened. But with Suarez now putting pen to paper, it might finally give the club and the player the impetus to get a deal pushed through, further cementing that connection.
This is all just conjecture, of course. If we don’t end up having a long-term relationship with Uruguay, then we will at least have their best player signed up for his best years. But I believe that the club could really take advantage of this in the long-run, particularly with many talented compatriots of Suarez’s peppered across Europe, and should we be looking to bring any of them in over the next few years, he could be extra bit of leverage we need.
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