EVERY supporter of Liverpool Football Club has been hoping since September 1st that when the January transfer window arrives, owners Fenway Sports Group will dip their hands in their pockets and allow Brendan Rodgers to bolster his squad. Liverpool need more quality players and more experience in their ranks. They have done all season, but now fans have a new reason to hope that their American custodians spend some significant money in 8 weeks time: To keep Luis Suarez at Anfield.
Suarez is without doubt Liverpool’s leading light these days. Indeed, he’s probably the Premier League’s leading light right now. His skill, inventiveness, work rate, and recently, his terrific output of goals, means that the prospect of a Liverpool team taking to the field without him is a terrifying proposition (and I certainly don’t mean for their opponents). Despite receiving a new contract this past summer, his happiness with his life on Merseyside and his mutual love with the clubs fan base, Suarez’s departure seems more likely every time he shines like a diamond amongst the dirt for the Reds.
Liverpool have been here before. It was just shy of two years ago that a world class foreign striker seemingly in love with the club, paid handsomely and idolised by Kopites the world over, eventually decided that he could leave all that behind to seek trophies at pastures new. Fernando Torres’ move to Chelsea hasn’t been plain sailing for the Spaniard but nearly two years on, Torres still hasn’t been effectively replaced (Suarez was bought as a foil for the Spaniard, not as a direct replacement) and his qualities are desperately missed at Anfield.
Meanwhile, in that time, his new club have won an FA Cup, the Champions League and currently sit just a point from the top of the Premier League table. In short, they are miles in front of Liverpool.
If Suarez continues to perform to the extraordinary levels that he has reached thus far this season then, just as happened with Torres, Champions League clubs with deeper pockets and better trophy prospects will be lining up and down Anfield Road to try and tempt him away. Be it Chelsea, Man City, Barcelona, PSG or Real Madrid, Suarez is likely to have enticing offers come his way when this season is in the record books. Liverpool must do everything they can to retain the services of their only world class forward and that process must start in January.
Not being in the Champions League means your Champions League quality players will start to cast envious glances at clubs in the competition and their services become increasingly difficult to retain. Torres left Liverpool because he didn’t think they had a short term route back to the top table of Europe’s elite clubs. Sadly, he was right. How long before Luis Suarez starts to feel the same way? How many games must he carry almost the entire attacking threat of his team while surrounded only by promising youngsters, fading former stars and downright mediocrity before he decides that enough is enough and he can get a better deal elsewhere?
It would be surprising if these thoughts aren’t already forming in the Uruguayan’s mind. Like all Liverpool fans, he will likely be waiting with baited breath when January comes around to see how serious FSG really are about restoring Liverpool to their former glories in a timely fashion. It’s all well and good having a long term plan and appointing a manager to carry it out, and youngsters like Sterling, Wisdom, Shelvey and Suso might be fantastic players in a few years time but for a world class striker in his prime right now, a few years down the line probably matters little. He will want success as soon as possible and progress needs to be made in the forthcoming transfer window to facilitate that progress.
If FSG can give their manager the funds to significantly improve his squad this winter then it will at least be an assurance that short term, the club are attempting to take serious strides forward and make a significant effort to get back to where they believe they should be. If they don’t offer Rodgers a fistful of dollars and he has to continue to rely on kids from the academy and players like Downing, Cole and Enrique week in week out, then could anyone really blame Luis Suarez for considering his future?
Suarez is an elite footballer who has the qualities to play in any side in the world. A new contract with a big pay rise only goes so far. He, like the club’s fans, needs reassurances that players of his ilk will be coming through the Shankly Gates soon to help him get Liverpool back into the Champions League and prevent them becoming a perennially mid-table outfit.
FSG need to bite the bullet, financially back the manager that they appointed, and keep their best player happy. If they don’t, then Liverpool can forget the Champions League and they will probably have to forget Luis Suarez too.