In the first instalment of a new series on BackPageFootball.com, Robbie Deighan looks at a possible move on the horizon for Uruguay’s World Cup star and current Ajax striker Luis Suarez.
Who? Luis Suarez. A 23 year old Uruguayan striker currently playing for Ajax. Since joining the Dutch club in 2007 Suarez has scored over a 100 goals. Being a member of the 100+ club in Amsterdam puts little Luis in the esteemed presence of footballing legends like Dennis Bergkamp, Marco Van Basten and Johan Cruyff. That’s good company. In the 2009-10 season, he scored 35 goals in 33 league games. That year his record in all competitions was 49 goals in 48 appearances. Internationally, he has scored 16 times for Uruguay in 38 games, although his most famous moment in the blue jersey came against Ghana in the 2010 World Cup when Suarez handled the ball on his own goal-line to prevent Ghana from snatching a late winner in the quarter-finals.
Is he available? It certainly seems so. Last summer an Ajax official claimed it would take around €40 million for the club to consider selling Suarez. Since then, the extent of Ajax’s financial troubles have been revealed and the club could very well see it wise to cash in on one of their major assets to appease the money men and for considerably less than €40 million. Suarez himself has been behaving a bit erratically this season; giving up the club captaincy and recently biting a PSV player on the shoulder which resulted in a seven match ban for Suarez. Not the behaviour of a happy man.
Who wants him? The two names most heavily linked with the player are Liverpool and Tottenham. The prospect of Suarez linking up with Fernando Torres and making runs for Steven Gerrard is mouth-watering. Liverpool badly need extra firepower in attack, and Suarez’s capture would be a real statement of intent from the new owners. Tottenham have plenty of strikers, but none who are doing the business this season. Robbie Keane is surely on his way out, Peter Crouch is failing to deliver and Jermain Defoe hasn’t managed to get a prolonged run in the team. One name surprisingly not regularly linked with Suarez is Chelsea, who should surely be looking for a talented young striker to keep the out-of-form Drogba and Anelka on their toes. Although only media speculation, Arsene Wenger is said to be a big fan, although Wenger has only recently been complaining that he has too many strikers so a bid for Suarez seems unlikely.
How much would he go for? Some papers are reporting that Ajax are considering a €15 million bid from Liverpool. This is not likely as owner John W. Henry only arrived in Merseyside yesterday to discuss transfer targets with Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli. A more likely bid would be €20 million offer plus former Ajax player Ryan Babel in exchange. Babel is still highly rated amongst the Dutch, who credit Rafa Benitez for failing to maximise the player’s potential. If Tottenham want the player they should expect to pay in the region of €25 million for a player who had a €40 million price tag slapped on his head just six months ago.