Ideally for pro-Luis Suarez people, Liverpool will hold onto the Uruguayan this summer and also seek out a temporary fill-in for the player during his six-game absence at the start of next season. If Suarez does stay this summer, here are five players who could fill the void during his suspension as well as compete for first team football after he returns.
Loic Remy | QPR
The Frenchman should be relatively cheap to avail of on the back of QPR’s relegation to the Championship, but Liverpool will have to dig deep into the wage budget to match the hefty intake that attracted him to QPR in the first place. I was sceptical of the 26-year-old, who traded the Stade Veladrome in Marseille for Loftus Road in January, but he has surpassed any expectations with the occasional moment of brilliance and showed glimpses of a player that could thrive in the upper half of the Premier League table.
Remy is by no means near Suarez’s level and it’d be foolish to consider him a direct replacement for the hungry Uruguayan, but if Brendan Rodgers fancies a player likely to be available, not too expensive and now with a little bit of Premier League experience under his belt, Remy could be the way to go.
Liverpool showed a lot of interest in the French international before he left Nice for Marseille and a rekindling of that interest wouldn’t be unexpected now that he has tasted Premier League football and looks capable of holding his own.
Son Heung-Min | Hamburg
The South Korean has been a revelation since emerging in the Hamburg senior team, the same club where he left school to play youth football at just 16-years-of-age. Still only 20, Son Heung-Min has been the target of a lot of speculation linking him with a move away from the Imtech Arena, most notably to Tottenham Hotspur.
If Liverpool shows an interest in the attacker – he’s not an out-and-out striker, but has been known to play the centre forward role – they’ll have to hope that the likelihood of more first team football is more attractive to Son than being at a European club. If he joined Spurs, he’d have to compete with Clint Dempsey, Moussa Dembele and Gylfi Sigurdsson, when Andre Villas Boas really should be investing in players who can start up front.
Having a player like Son in the squad would allow Daniel Sturridge to play in his favoured role up front, while the South Korean occupies any of the three positions around the frontman. Son has displayed terrific two-footedness in his short career and has an assured eye for goal.
It’s also important to note that he hasn’t extended his contract at Hamburg, which ends in 2014.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang | St Étienne
The Gabonese striker is second only to Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the goalscoring chart in the French League this season. After a handful of uninspiring loan spells in France’s top flight, AC Milan were more than happy to hand him over to St Etienne on a permanent basis in December 2011. Since then, Aubameyang has found the back of the net 38 times in two seasons.
Again, Aubameyang has been the subject of much speculation linking him with a move away from his club. Liverpool have learned to be wary of Ligue Un prospects, but if he is available at the right price then a move could be on the cards.
Aubameyang is more Daniel Sturridge than Luis Suarez, he won’t entirely replace the bustle and doggedness that the Uruguayan provides so uniquely, but he can score goals, has decent awareness in and around the box and would provide some much needed competition to Brendan Rodgers’ forward selections.
Alan Dzagoev | CSKA Moscow
A move that has been whispered in the past and may materialise if Liverpool want to add quality to an attacking midfield position and let Daniel Sturridge flourish on his own up front. The Russian’s quality has been well documented for some time, but with Phillipe Coutinho doing so well it’s likely low on Liverpool’s agenda to spend big on a similar sort of player.
The 23-year-old can score from midfield and is one of Europe’s highest rated playmakers. He won’t play up front, so Brendan Rodgers may want to compliment what he already has in attack with an accomplished, maturing international footballer in Dzagoev.
Andy Carroll | Liverpool
As much as some Liverpool fans are afraid to acknowledge, the £35million striker is still on the books at the club Luis Suarez’s banning could reignite the Geordie’s Anfield career, and his performances while on loan at West Ham have done him no harm whatsoever.
Both Carroll and Suarez can torment defences to the breaking point, but it is much harder to accommodate Carroll’s style of play – especially when you’re philosophy is neat, intricate passing and working the ball from deep. But even having Andy Carroll as an option in the squad could tempt Rodgers to hold onto him, especially in the wake of Suarez’s banning, and also considering the difficulty Liverpool had breaking down teams like Reading and Southampton this season. There are few players with the kind of influence Andy Carroll can have with ten or twenty minutes to go.