Luis Suarez: First step in Torres leaving?

by Willie Gannon

Liverpool are closing in on the signature of the Ajax centre forward Luis Suarez. However, the signing immediately begs two questions;

1) Why sign Suarez when the rest of team needs undoubted strengthening? And maybe more importantly, 2) Does Suarez coming in speed up the departure of Fernando Torres?

There is little doubt that this campaign has been one of the worst Liverpool fans or players have ever had to endure. Roy Hodgson was brought into the club last July by Christian Purslow and was immediately hailed as the man to steady the sinking ship but the truth worked out far differently than either man could imagine. Hodgson was meant to come in, sweep the carpets clean, and give the club the appearance of being on a sound footing as Martin Broughton and Purslow looked to bring new owners in.

His steady approach, after the scattershot transfer dealings of Rafael Benitez, was seen as the way to get the club back on track and although a top four finish was the very most Liverpool fans expected, a season of improvement on and off the pitch was the very least Hodgson had to produce.

Instead, Hodgson’s campaign stuttered from the start and after just 31 games in charge of the Reds, as Liverpool slipped towards the relegation zone, with a record reading W-13 D-9 L-9, the likeable manager found himself heading towards the growing dole queues in Croydon.

Hodgson’s biggest mistake at Anfield was in alienating the Liverpool fan base and the Kop in particular. He had umpteen chances to stake his claim with the Anfield faithful but he bungled every single one.

From refusing to take Fabio Capello up with playing Steven Gerrard for 90 minutes when the Liverpool captain should have only played for 45 minutes while on England duty (Manchester United’s and Chelsea’s players only played for 45) to taking a diplomatic stance when Sir Alex Ferguson accused Fernando Torres of trying to get John O’Shea sent off, Hodgson just did not know how to act as a manager of a big club.

There is an old saying in the workplace. A man may have been working for 35 years but if he has done the same thing every year then he doesn’t have 35 years worth of experience he just has one. This would seem to be the case with Hodgson at Liverpool. He just seemed out of his depth and did not know what to so from day one.

After looking for the job last summer when he did not like any of the managers he was profiling, including Hodgson, Kenny Dalglish has been given the job to right the good ship Liverpool. In just three games there has been enough improvement in the team to suggest that, instead of fighting it out in the lower reaches of the league, Liverpool could indeed mount a challenge to finish in the European spots.

The Scot has a tough task ahead because there can be little doubt that the current squad needs improving. There are glaring holes all over the first team squad. Quite simply there are far too many players not of Liverpool quality currently residing in red shirts and it says much that, for a long time, the two best players under Roy Hodgson were probably Sotirios Krygiakos and Lucas Leivia.

The ex-Fulham boss did not enamour himself to Liverpool fans with his summer signings or tactics but it must be said that the new additions were just like adding water to an already burning oil fire. Now as we pass the halfway point of the season, NESV look set to prove to Liverpool fans that they mean business and that LFC is still a big club. To send this message out to the fans Damien Comolli has contacted Ajax about the availability of Luis Suarez.

Currently the negotiations between the two clubs are about £8 million apart with Liverpool valuing the striker at less than £15 million while Ajax want an estimated £23 million for the 23-year-old.

Suarez is one of the most sought after players in world football at the moment. Barcelona and Manchester United both sent scouts to assess him last season when he bagged 49 goals in 48 games. His overall record at Ajax is impressive. Over the last four years he has never failed to score less than 20 goals a season and his current record reads as having played 154 games with 110 goals.

Rumour of his impending transfer from Ajax went into overdrive two weeks ago when Ajax announced that Suarez was being removed as captain of the club and from there he has been linked with various clubs like Bayern Munich, Tottenham Hotspur, and Liverpool. While there is no doubting his class or his potential one must have to question the reasoning behind signing such a player for so much money especially as the rest of the squad needs strengthening.

Stephen Warnock and Charlie Adam have both been linked with the club in recent days and would be welcome additions to the changing room but that still leaves the glaring holes at centre half, central midfield, and out wide.

Of course, Liverpool definitely needs to sign a centre forward. Neglecting to bring in a player who could replace Fernando Torres was one of the prime reasons for both Rafael Benitez and Roy Hodgson getting sacked, but it seems madness to sign a player of £20 million type calibre unless he is going to play all the time.

The main problem there is that both Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez operate primarily as lone strikers for their respective teams. Torres has been at Liverpool since 2007 and has never played with a real partner, unless you count Steven Gerrard playing just behind him. Rafael Benitez is one of the most astute tactical managers in the game and even he failed to find a strike partner for the Liverpool number 9.

Gerrard’s best position is as the supporting midfielder so if Suarez does come in then Liverpool will gain in one area but lose in the other as Gerrard would revert to a traditional central midfielder when he simply does not know how to dictate a game from deep.

The other option for Liverpool is to utilise him with Torres in the same way that Peter Beardsley complemented John Aldridge in Dalglish’s first stint at Liverpool in the late ’80s. The problem with that particular tactic is that Torres’ link up play is not up to the same class as his finishing and that he is a player who plays his best football when facing the goal rather than away from it.

It is also worth noting that John Aldridge was sold by Dalglish while he was still at his peak. No, the Suarez signing only makes sense, to me anyway, on two levels.

1) He is a big money signing that will get the fans back on board and,

2) His signing is the first part in Torres’ future transfer.

The latter statement makes particular sense when you realise that Pere Guardiola is Pep Guardiola’s brother as well as being Luis Suarez’s agent. It is no secret that Barcelona have indicated that they want to bring Torres and Fabregas back to Spain next season and Suarez’s signing follows NESV’s ideal by bringing in a player with vast potential while selling another at what could be his peak value.

If Suarez does indeed come in, he would be too valuable to leave on the bench so it would look as if Dalglish will be employing a 4-4-2 type system for the rest of the season with Steven Gerrard as one of his two main central midfielders.

The problem with that set up is that it leaves the two centre halves exposed. One would have to assume that since Martin Kelly is commanding the right full berth that Dalglish will stick with the youngster out there instead of the haphazard Glen Johnsen with a new or existing player at left back. That would leave Liverpool with a very one paced back line and with a team whose tactical approach would be very direct. An accusation that the Kop levelled at Roy Hodgson with some venom on more than one occasion.

Is Suarez the right signing at the right time? Because it might even end up causing more questions than answers.

38 Responses

  1. Brian says:

    I think it is more about getting quality players into the team to ease the burden on Torres. Gerrard’s position is a good point to raise but I reckon it’ll be a change in formation or a tweak of the current one, players interchanging throughout the game, pass and move, classic Liverpool.

    1. John Davis says:

      I think you could be right Brian but I also think the writer makes a good point about where Suarez may play.

      If KD goes 442 then we won’t break the top 4 without a really good midfield, if he goes 451 then where will LS play? I can’t see KD paying big money for a left or right sided player when the rest need work.

      One tghing the writer missed is that we need a top class striker to take the strain when Torres is out injured.

    2. Rakzta says:

      With regards to Gerrards position – you might have noticed that whenever Gerrard plays behind the striker, he always has to go back DEEP to get the ball and bring it forward, because the two holding midfielders we have are rubbish!
      Poulsen is a waste, and Lucas rarely brings the ball forward, instead they just pass it to the back four.
      Meireles is playing very good. I would like to see Shelvey, Meireles as 2 holding midfielders, Gerrard behind striker, and Pacheco and J.cole on the Wings. Kuyt can come on when we need to protect a lead, because he really does work hard for nothing!

  2. Dave says:

    While Suarez can play the striker role, he is equally adept at playing anywhere across the supporting 3 in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

    Your concerns about Gerrard’s position may well be founded, however it’s not simply a case of Suarez OR Gerrard in the line-up.

    The line-up would more conceivably be something like:

    ————-Torres
    Suarez — Gerrard — Kuyt
    —-Lucas——-Meireles

    or:

    ————-Torres
    Suarez ————- Gerrard
    —-Lucas——-Meireles
    ———-Poulsen

    etc.

    That Suarez would be a marquee signing is no secret. Dalglish has said as much.

    The point I feel you’re missing is that Liverpool need players of Suarez’s quality to KEEP Torres, not to replace him.

    Poor article all around I’m afraid. Could do with some more editing.

    1. I agree with this point and others that Suarez will play in a wide forward role, probably replacing Maxi, and operate across the attack line as a more mobile and attacking threat to what currently is there at the minute.

      I don’t believe this will lead to Torres leaving. I’d be more worried if I was Maxi!

      Dave, your point that this article is poor all round is unfair, because Willie does make some very good points early on about Roy.

      1. Dave says:

        The “poor article” comment was more to do with the editing than the author’s opinions. Some of the sentence structures could do with some cleaning up.

        1. Fair enough. We’ll get on it.

    2. Willie Gannon Willie Gannon says:

      Hi Dave,

      The first formation you talk about is one that is easily envisioned, but it also raises the issue that whoever plays as a deep midfielder isn’t very good at playing there.

      No doubt that Liverpool need someone to take the burden off Torres, the team just aren’t the same when he’s not there.

      However, do you really think that Suarez will sign, a striker who scored 49 goals in 48 games last year, and be played out on the left as a support player?

      I disagree there, for Uruguay he plays up front as the main striker while he played there for Ajax until El Hamdouai signed this year while the Dutch club got ready to sell Suarez in the first place.

      If he signs I can only really see him play in one of two positions – either as a striker or just behind one, maybe outwide on certain occasions but never regularly.

      Thanks for the feedback on the editing, that was my fault and I’ll be more thorough in the
      future.

  3. klaus says:

    is it possible to write so much bull….. on one page. obviously he doesn’t know anything about football. On the other hand, why am I even commenting this ?

    1. Rakzta says:

      maybe because we have nothing better to do at the moment : )

  4. David says:

    First off, you’re 100% correct on the Hodgson stuff. However, to suggest that Steven Gerrard can’t play central midfield very well is an insult to one of the greatest players of his generation. He has single-handledy won games for Liverpool from central midfield on many occasions. Also, Suarez has played wide and as second striker many times. He was also effective playing alongside Diego Forlan for Uruguay at the World Cup. I don’t think he has to be a Torres replacement at all

    1. Willie Gannon Willie Gannon says:

      Nobody suggested that Steven Gerrard can’t play central midfield.

      He just isn’t good enough to dictate the game at the highest level in that position.

      It is one of the reasons that Rafael Benitez played him so far forward and why he has never dominated consistantly at International level.

  5. klaus says:

    it’s obvious. torres up front with kuyt and suarez on the side. gerrard, meireles and adams in the midfield senter. Need to get the left and right backs up and down the field.

    i think this is the preferred set up and there are only one big problem with this that will be sorted this summer. Skrtl is just not good enough

  6. magnumopus says:

    Willie, you sound wet behind the ears if you ask me! Torres is going nowhere because he, as well as Liverpool fans, doesn’t want to leave! He has said again and again, as he did with Madrid, that he believes in honoring his contracts. More than anything he would like to win the league at Liverpool and if the owners buy the right players he still has a good chance to do so. Now, lets see who is bought!

  7. Catbat says:

    This is a rehash of an article on the USA website, bleachers. It is just conjecture. You have completely ignored the fact that Torres has recently stated he is going nowhere. And as for the scattergun transfer approach of rafa! If anything he bought players who were top similar. Aldridge was sold because he was too similar to a certain mr rush, whom he was bought to replace, and who returned to the club. The squad of players back then included barnes Beardsley and houghton provider attacking support. Different era, different circumstances.

  8. t says:

    liverpool desperately need a striker and have done since keane was sold in 2009. If liverpool want to be in the top 6 we need another striker n’gog and pacheco are inexperienced but have potential. But if torres is injured for 6 weeks would n’gog be able to cause a constant threat to premiership defences? How did liverpool do when torres was injured last season? So I would say the desperately need a striker. As for defence they need a leader it has proved with carra out they look out of sorts but is that because of the last 5 plus year he has been there constantly and no one has had to step up? Wide players is another problem kyut is not a wide man lacks pace and skill. To be up against most premiership left backs don’t get me wrong will run all day long and can play some nice balls in. But is not going to scare anyone with his pace or skill. Like nani malouda walcot lennon silva etc

    1. Willie Gannon Willie Gannon says:

      Couldn’t agree more that Liverpool need a striker to replace Torres when he is out injured, which is why Darren Bent was looked at before Villa came in with such a huge bid.

  9. Robbie says:

    Considering the depth into which you have gone you have made one largely flawed assumption at the very beginning of your article – that the rest of the team needs strengthening more urgently than the attack. Barring Torres and N’Gog, LFC have no other forwards.

    Joe Cole, Dirk Kuyt and Milan Jovanovic can all play as forwards (as well as Gerrard if required) but this is not the position that they are best utilised in and are all (barring Gerrard) now better suited, regardless of previous playing positions, to playing as wingers cutting in from the flanks or in the hole behind the opposition midfield.

    An experienced yet young and proven international forward to compliment Torres and fill in for him when he is not in form or injured is exactly what Liverpool have needed for the past 3 years. To sell Torres would leave Liverpool exactly where they are now except possibly weaker as Suarez is not proven in the Premier League yet.

    1. Willie Gannon Willie Gannon says:

      I agree completely that Liverpool need a good striker to take up the burden when Torres is out.

      The idea of selling Torres doesn’t work unless they replace him, I believe his replacement is Suarez.

      The rational behind that is buying Suarez at 23 for around £20m, selling Torres, 27, in the summer for £40m and then having enough money to buy another striker and use that cash injection to revitalise the team.

      This is what NESV do and it is what Comolli and sabremetrics is based on.

  10. Richard says:

    Man united payed 30 million to get berbatov when they had Rooney. The point is, a big club should have at least two quality playerz on each position. Suarez can play behind torres, and gerrard drops to the middle. Its not true that gerrard can not dictate the tempo of the game from the middle, he can and has done it before many times. The club has enough money to buy suarez, and even strengthen the other areas.

    1. Willie Gannon Willie Gannon says:

      The point with United is that they were challenging for the league.

      Even with Torres and Suarez up front Liverpool won’t win the league.

      I think it has been proven over the years that Steven Gerrards best position is as a supporting midfielder.

      If he was good enough to dominate and dictate midfield from the centre then Rafael Benitez would have played him there and that his record at international level would stand for itself.

  11. rouman says:

    whatever the reason we do need a striker, gerrard is a player who can play anywere. kenny knows what he is doing its a shame he was not given the job before, roy hodgson. a wide player is allso needed as is a ball playing midfield player. charlie adams? who knows but kenny has my backing..

    1. Willie Gannon Willie Gannon says:

      Charlie Adam hasn’t got the pace to play out wide Rouman, he played there for Rangers and did very little before Ian Holloway signed him.

      He would do a job in the centre though.

  12. Tom Ted says:

    The only questions being touted around are by the stupid ‘wannabe internet hacks’ with nothing else to spout rubbish about.

    Suarez is simply being added to the squad to help take the burden away from Torres.

    Its been clear he needs someone to work with up front to draw defenders away from him.

    Willie is simply looking into it too much with a typical sensationalist headline trying to draw the trolls in.

    Torres wont be sold, he’ll simply be added to with the likes of Suarez.

  13. Steve says:

    If you watch Suarez play, he drifts to the wings a lot. I’d say he is a replacement for Maxi/Kuyt on either wing. Stevie or Raul will play off Nando, with the other in midfield with Lucas.

    If Man U can have a £30m player on the bench, cos they only play 1 up front and that is Rooney, so can we. But he won’t be benched, Nando and Suarez would drift in an out of positions to make it hard to pick up.

    1. Willie Gannon Willie Gannon says:

      While he is capable of playing out wide, he never really does.

      Ajax used him as a traditional centre forward up until this season. The 451 that Martin Jol used was one of the main reasons he was sacked, and this year under De Boer they have gone back to 433 with Suarez either playing up through the centre or slightly towards the right.

      Most times however the formation they end up with looks like a 4312 with Suarez and El Hamdouai up front.

      What you say about Manchester United doesn’t really translate towards Liverpool for a couple of reasons.

      United are challenging for the league, have a bigger squad and a bigger budget.

      On Torres and Suarez, they may play well together, but that means some form of 442 and Gerrard dropping back away from his best postition.

  14. Rakzta says:

    Errr the reason why LFC want Suarez is because they desperately need a striker to;

    1) Ease the burden of Torres
    2) Be available if Torres is injured/suspended
    3) Help liverpool be more attacking

    and no, its not because its because Torres will leave. Torres said it himself that he will honour his contract.

    1. Number one is a major point here. Suarez will be so beneficial to Torres it’ll be unbelievable, and if you had asked me who in the world would I want as a partner to Torres – it’d be Suarez.

      Suarez is so dynamic across the attack line, epitomised in his World Cup with Forlan up front.

  15. Goaltastic says:

    Barcelona couldn’t afford Torres, let alone both Torres and Fabregas, even if they wanted him.

    1. Willie Gannon Willie Gannon says:

      I wouldn’t be so sure there.

  16. Goldneballs says:

    I fully understand your points, but dont forget Stevie G turns 31 at the end of this season. he cant continue to play for ever and if he can be managed much the same as Giggs, we will get even more out of him for years to come!! But this depends on having players capable of rotating with and to save cost it makes sense to look at someone who could also be back up to Torres as well as being able to compliment him up front should a game or tactics dictate a change of shape. We dont currently have anyone on the books capable (sorry good enough) and in order to do that, you have to spend BIG. really BIG when you consider the players Suarez will be in competition for and ultimately at some point take over from!!

    Ashley Young is someone that could inject an awful lot to the squad and 1st team as could a centre back along the lines of Cahill or Kjaer depending on the price being quoted for Cahill.

    Left back is an area that may not be as big an issue as long Johnson and Kelly continue to do as well as they have done. so cant really see Coantaero joining.

    where we really need someone is the centre of the park to releive the burden on Lucas. I didnt think Adam was that player, but the more i have seen of him, the more i’ve grown to believe he could cut it for Liverpool. just at what price though ?!

    With Babel away and Jova looking likely to follow, we should have about £10million to spend. that would cover Adam. we also havent spent the money from Mascherano sale so i’d expect funds to be there for Suarez. bringing in the others (Young, Cahill/Kjaer) probably have to wait til the summer and get a better price.

    but i fully hope and expect 2 new players in the current window. most probably Suarez and Adam.

    1. Willie Gannon Willie Gannon says:

      Some excellent points there, particularly the one about Gerrard aging.

  17. steve says:

    there has been a long time since we had a great left winger…suarez can play second striker,winger,center forward,…many positions..if Liverpool sign him i expect this squad:
    Reina
    Kelly Carragher Agger Johnson
    Lucas Meireles
    Gerrard
    Kuyt Torres Suarez
    having on the bench players like:Skrtel,Aurelio,Poulsen,Maxi,Joe Cole,Pacheco,Ngog..Sell Babel,Jovanovic and buy Luis Suarez..i’ve just read that Suarez is pressing for Ajax to lower the price and that Liverpool have opened talks with ajax again..Gudjonsen is close to sign to ajax and it seems that the Suarez deal is back on..

  18. Calum says:

    I agree with the arguments that state Gerrard CAN lead the team from central position and that Suarez is not solely a lone striker. Kenny has also shown already that there is going to be a much more fluid shape to the team with all midfielders (as well as possible runs from Agger/Full Backs) expected to support the goal threat. Dare I say it “pass & move”.
    One extra point regarding the original argument I’d like to make is that it appears to be a contradiction to link Torres to a Barca move. If he is only a lone striker with limited build-up capabilities then this is not the player the Spanish champions are looking for. It is sometimes easy to suggest top player will be wanted by all teams. Pep buys on squad requirement hence adding David Villa last summer.

    1. Willie Gannon Willie Gannon says:

      It would definitely be nice to see Liverpool playing good progressive football again.

      I mentioned Barcelona because Torres was heavily linked with a move to them in the summer.

      They are really fighting a battle for the hearts and minds of the Spanish public with Real Madrid and see the easiest way of winning as by playing as many of Spain’s World Cup winning team as possible.

      Torres is a very real target for both Real and Barca next summer.

  19. Bobby says:

    Well done, Willie! At first I dismissed your article as drivel but now this could really be a possibility with Torres handing in a transfer request….I think your article is vindicated by this recent rumour development.

  20. Neil Sherwin Neil Sherwin says:

    “The only questions being touted around are by the stupid ‘wannabe internet hacks’ with nothing else to spout rubbish about.”

    Oh dear! Looks like somebody owes Willie an apology, and he isn’t the only one

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