Does Suarez sale undermine or underline Liverpool's ambition?

WINDOW WATCH: Goal's weekly column looks at how Brendan Rodgers can go about suitably replacing the Uruguayan and the ongoing rivalry between the Reds and Arsenal
By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent


On the face of it, a fee of over £70 million for a 27-year-old banned for the first two-and-a-half months of next season is a reasonable deal for Liverpool.

9/1 Liverpool are 9/1 with bet365 to win the 2014-15 Premier League title
Yet proper judgement of the value of the club-record departure of Luis Suarez should be reserved until this summer's recruits are assessed over a lengthy period.

As any Tottenham fan can attest, a multitude of mediocre signings is indequate when replacing a double-winning player of the year.

Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group deserve credit for holding out for the full value of the release clause in Suarez's contract. Now they need to be equally vigilant in demonstrating the ambition needed to build on the club's astonishing improvement last season.

The club have been preparing for Suarez's departure by being one of the most active Premier League clubs in the summer market.

Liverpool have completed the signings of Adam Lallana, Emre Can and Rickie Lambert, and put deals in place for winger Lazar Markovic, defender Dejan Lovren and striker Wilfried Bony as well as a buy-to-loan swoop for exciting Belgian forward Divock Origi.

This potential £100m+ outlay would considerably strengthen the squad ahead of the return Champions League football next season but despite the concentration of strikers and attacking midfielders, none would provide an adequate replacement for Suarez.

This is where FSG need to back Brendan Rodgers and provide him with a blue-chip forward. Liverpool's American owners, and the tier of recruitment executives who work for them, have had considerable success at spotting value in the market, most notably in the cases of Suarez, Daniel Sturridge, Joe Allen and Philippe Coutinho.

Origi, who demonstrated his exciting potential during the World Cup, and Markovic would appear to come into that bracket, while the signing of late bloomer Rickie Lambert could also be a masterstroke.

But there is more than one way to skin a cat. Liverpool must sometimes shop at the top end of the market if they are to become a team genuinely feared across Europe.

The feeling persists that FSG are happy to set some of the Suarez money aside for the Anfield redevelopment rather than invest it back into the team.

It is also highly likely that Rodgers has decided Suarez is irreplaceable and will re-tune his formation next season, building the attack around Sturridge and surrounding the lone striker with an abundance of technically gifted attacking midfielders.

Yet there is a great opportunity over the next seven weeks to recruit a potential world-beating attacker approaching his peak, much as the club did when landing Suarez from Ajax in the same window they sold Fernando Torres.

Liverpool had considerably the better of that £50m deal with Chelsea. Show ambition and recruit well, and there is no reason they can not come out of this window smelling of roses once again.


This window is proving that there remains no love lost between Arsenal and Liverpool.

Relations between the two big-hitters are still frosty a year on from the infamous £40million-plus-£1 Suarez bid that prompted so much anger in the Anfield boardroom.

The Merseysiders knew a long time ago that Alexis Sanchez had indicated he would sign for Arsenal, but that did not stop senior Liverpool figures briefing the media that the Chilean could be a makeweight in the deal that took Suarez to Barcelona.

In reality, this was always extremely remote, if not impossible. Yet it suited Liverpool to be linked with a forward of Sanchez's calibre at at a time when the supporters had to swallow the bitter pill that their double-winning player of the year was heading for Spain.

Liverpool also knew that Barcelona would not sanction Sanchez's sale until the Suarez deal had been wrapped up.

Arsenal's long-held plan had been to unveil Sanchez on the day the club's new Puma kit deal was launched. Earlier in the week, Liverpool were keen to delay Suarez's exit in order to prevent the Arsenal party getting started.

The hostility, from Boston to Merseyside, lingers.

With the two clubs at a similar level in terms of resources and ambition, the rivalry between Arsenal and Liverpool is only likely to intensify in the coming season.