Think back to May 5th – Mark Clattenburg signals full time; Liverpool were stunned at Selhurst Park by one of the greatest comebacks in Premier League history at the hands of Tony Pulis’ Crystal Palace. Three goals to the good with just eleven minutes on the clock, but nine minutes later, Palace were level after a a three goal blitz that was more reminiscent of a Heinz Guderian steam rolling of France than a football match. Why is this event significant? Well, deny it all you want, but this was the moment that Luis Suarez called time on his love affair with Liverpool.
Cue the debates for days and days in the aftermath of the Premier League coming to a close and Liverpool narrowly missing out on their chance to end their league trophy drought. I can remember the same or very similar quote being uttered by so many;
“Why would Suarez want to leave? He’s just bagged 30 goals in the league. Liverpool are now in Champions League, we have a brilliant manager who can build something truly special at Anfield – there is no way he will leave, he has no reason to.”
All good points it has to be said, but the one factor that Liverpudlians were either too naive to consider or were just willfully avoiding, is that Suarez can get Champions League in many other places, be paid a lot more money to come there, and play with players of a much higher profile than Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson and Glen Johnson – that league is La Liga, and those clubs are Real Madrid and Barcelona.
There is no denying the prestige Liverpool possess. Their history is rich and there is no bigger club in the nation than Manchester United, though you could certainly argue they are on the same playing field. But Liverpool’s history is not enough to keep Suarez there, and neither is their Champions League football. If you are honest with yourselves for just one minute, if you were in his shoes, would you turn down a chance to play with Ronaldo, Di Maria, Bale and Benzema? How about Messi or Neymar? What about playing in a nation that is far closer to the one of your birth, where they speak your native tongue, where the life style and even the weather suits you? This was always going to be his goal, and if you think any different, then you’ve just gone into a massive state of denial.
More to the point, it’s the holy grail for players that hail from Latin America to play for the biggest clubs in Spain, so is it really all that surprising that Liverpool and Barcelona are in talks for the sale of Suarez to the Camp Nou? Not in the slightest. Whether Liverpool receive 80million in cash outright, or if they can pocket 50million plus Alexis Sanchez, they should take the money and run faster than Usain Bolt in the 100m dash.
Is Suarez an absolutely brilliant player? Yes, and there is and never will be any denial of that fact from any corner of the footballing world. But is he worth either of those two proposed deals? No. That is not to slight his ability as a player, but it is his volatile nature that surely must make his value drop.
Never the less, Liverpool are about to cash in on their best player, but Kopites should not be upset in the slightest. It was widely believed that Liverpool would only have 60million to spend, and any further expenditures would have to be funded by the selling of players – this is why the Suarez deal makes every bit of sense.
Liverpool have already brought in Emre Can from Bayer Leverkusen, and Rickie Lambert + Adam Lallana from Southampton. Three players already in and no one has yet to leave, but that does not mean the exit door is closed. There are sure to be other departures other than Suarez, but despite already spending in excess of 40million on their first three singings, the sale of Suarez alone recoops the losses and gives Liverpool plenty of cash to continue to reinforce and build under Rodgers.
Sanchez to Liverpool seems a long shot after it initially appeared that he was close to a move. It’s been widely thought that the Chilean’s first choice destination is Arsenal if he is forced out of Barcelona – this should suit Liverpool well. Sanchez to Arsenal means Liverpool will be sitting on 80million pounds in the bank from the sale, which really translates into an additional 40-odd million for Rodgers to spend after the books are balanced given their transfer activity up to this point. With Liverpool back in Champions League, and Rodgers stating that he is prepared to have the club challenge on all fronts, the more money that can be banked by Suarez’s exit the better.
The Kop will no doubt miss the influential performances of Suarez, his brilliant free-kicks, his killer instincts in the final third and the perceived love of the club that he claims to have. But just like life outside of football (wait, is there such a thing?), not all love affairs last forever. So say goodbye to Suarez, because while he will be walking alone down to Spain, you are far better off in the end.