BY WASIM PARKAR – FAN FUEL BLOGGER
As Europe’s biggest clubs start to finalize deals and unveil new signings, it’s already becoming evident that the most tedious transfer saga of the summer is the one that surrounds Luis Suarez. Brendan Rodgers is certain that he can convince the forward to stay at Anfield, but only a day before Managing Director Ian Ayre claimed that it was going to be tough to persuade the Uruguayan, and in fact Liverpool have clear targets if Suarez does leave.
Arsenal have already had one official bid rebuffed, and are rumoured to return with a record 40 million pound offer for Liverpool’s star player. Suarez himself has made his preference for a move to Real Madrid clear, but Los Blancos have yet to make a move or announce their desire to sign the player. Nonetheless, they are extremely adept at moving in late to seal signings of marquee players. Meanwhile at Chelsea, Jose Mourinho has clearly identified Wayne Rooney as his only remaining target of the summer, apparently ending their interest in Suarez.
With Suarez’s future developing into a game of cat and mouse between Arsenal, Liverpool and Real Madrid, I analyze Suarez’s individual and collective options at the three clubs.
Why it doesn’t work: Even the staunchest advocates of Arsene Wenger realize that mental toughness and inspiration in adversity are not the Arsenal manager’s strongest traits. Arsenal can often crumble when the going gets tough, and with the negative vibe that often surrounds Suarez, it could be a hindrance to a mentally fragile team. Suarez inevitably manages to capture the headlines for the wrong reasons, and Wenger doesn’t have a track record of nurturing the bad boys of the game to correct their ways.
It also will be interesting to see the effect Suarez’s arrival will have on Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski. Suarez is a rare breed of modern forward that actually enjoys playing with a partner up front. When playing in tandem with Suarez, it is extremely important to have good movement off the ball, and intelligence on it, not qualities that you can associate with any of Arsenal’s current forwards.
Why it works: If Arsenal do manage to sign Suarez, it will be their biggest statement of intent since they won the Premier League in 2004. The signing will smash Arsenal’s transfer record, and will be their best signing within the Premier League since acquiring Sol Campbell from Tottenham in 2001. The deal will change the narrative around Arsenal going into the season, and will silence a lot of critics who deride Arsenal’s lack of ambition.
Suarez’s arrival will also boost the morale of Arsenal’s current stars. Arsenal’s forwards may not be on the same wavelength as Suarez, but more significantly he should be able to dovetail easily with Arsenal’s creative midfielders. With the onus of scoring goals spread around the team, expect Suarez to engage in hypnotic triangles and creative one-twos with Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere et al, resulting in attractive football and more goals for Gunners fans to celebrate.
2. Real Madrid
Why it doesn’t work: Dressing rooms don’t come any bigger and egotistical than the one at the Santiago Bernabeu. Real Madrid will not want a repeat of the shenanigans last season, when off-field matters took a front seat ahead of everything on the pitch. Mourinho may have left, but some of the biggest egos amongst the players remain, and it is far from certain that Suarez is going to settle for being a medium-sized fish in the shark tank.
Carlo Ancelotti’s transfers this summer indicate, that he believes the template for success at Real Madrid will be a replication of his successful formation at the helm of AC Milan. Suarez is at his absolute best when breaking on the counter, and whether Ancelotti’s possession oriented approach can accommodate both Cristiano Ronaldo and Suarez up front is debatable.
Why it works: Suarez has made it abundantly clear on several occasions that he hates constantly dealing with the English media’s persecution of him. Suarez will have no such worries in Spain, and the advantage of being in a team full of stars, is that the attention of the press won’t be half as intense as in England. It’s also an important factor that adjusting to Spanish culture won’t pose many problems to Suarez as there will be no language barriers, and Latin Americans footballers generally tend to excel in Spain.
Another gripe that Suarez has in England is referees hardly ever favouring him. In Spain, defenders can’t get away with fouls the way their English counterparts do. Expect Suarez’s trickery and dribbles in the box to win Real Madrid many penalties and free kicks in dangerous positions. As with Arsenal, once Suarez is fully integrated there should be some free flowing football from Suarez in tandem with Isco, Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Mesut Ozil.
Why it doesn’t work: He clearly wants to leave, and having an unhappy star can be detrimental to the morale of the team. What must grate Liverpool fans is the fact that they can’t deny Suarez deserves to be playing for a team competing in the Champions League. Suarez has rescued many points and won many matches for Liverpool, and one can’t blame a player at the peak of his powers for having ambition.
Another important factor is can a club in Liverpool’s current state afford to start their season without having their best player for the first six matches. The ban from last season’s disgraceful bite continues into the new season, and while bigger clubs can afford to be without their best players at certain times due to squad depth, for Liverpool a run of six bad games can end their quest to reach the Champions League very early in the season.
Why it works: Despite all the shenanigans surrounding Suarez, the truth is the Kop adores him, and many Liverpool fans will back him to a fault. He is revered at Anfield, has the complete support of his manager, and his teammates believe in him and entrust him with the responsibility to deliver when it matters.
Suarez should also consider the fact that he is already familiar with a system in which he excels. He had his best season for Liverpool last time around, and the additions made to the squad in January really elevated the level of the team’s attacking play. A blossoming partnership with Daniel Sturridge is already in place, and he seemed to develop an immediate understanding with Philippe Coutinho, the Brazilian often on the same wavelength with clever runs into space and quick positional interchanges.