The World Cup has long been a stage for the world’s best players to represent their countries, and to show clubs around the globe just how good they can be.
After the group stage and Round of 16, Liverpool appear to be impressed with two top strikers and are possibly entertaining a deal to ship out the talented but troubled Luis Suarez.
Suarez, 27, followed up his 31-goal English Premier League term by biting an opposing player for the third time in his career, and earned himself a four-month ban from FIFA. While Suarez isn’t allowed to participate in any Liverpool or Uruguayan international activities, the Merseyside club has no transfer restrictions and they could find a replacement for Suarez in Barcelona.
Catalans forward Alexis Sanchez helped Chile claim two victories in Brazil, including a 2-0 crushing of defending champion Spain, and nearly trumped the favored host nation before falling in a shootout. The 25-year-old claimed a goal and assist, but he was constantly marked as the most dangerous threat on the Chilean side.
Over the last three years, Sanchez has also shown his mettle at Nou Camp with 39 goals in 88 appearances, more than solid production for a player stuck behind the likes of Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta.
According to Daily Mail, Barcelona officials met with Liverpool to discuss a swap for Suarez and would include Sanchez in a deal that could reach as high as £80 million.
However, Sanchez actually prefers a switch to Arsenal, which means Liverpool will only receive a massive lump sum for Suarez.
In light of a Suarez for cash deal, it appears Reds manager Brendan Rodgers has already earmarked the funds for a shock move for AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli, who scored the winning goal in Italy’s 2-1 victory over England in the group stage last month.
The 23-year-old netted 26 goals for Milan in his first term in Serie A after spending the previous three years in the EPL with Manchester City. His time back home in Italy has certainly served Balotelli’s game well, but there is a desire to return to England.
"Maybe it was a mistake to bring Mario back to Italy,” Balotelli’s agent Mino Raiola said according to The Express. "For him it is essential to go where he is loved, and at AC Milan some people love him and some do not."
Valued just below £27 million, Balotelli could likely fetch as much as £40 or £50 million, meaning Rodgers won’t have to spend all of the Suarez earnings on one player and can address other needs.
The extra funds may allow Liverpool to pursue Levante and Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who was a target long before his incredible display in Brazil lifted Los Ticos to the quarterfinals for the first time in history.
Navas has totaled 14 saves in four matches during the Cup, but none was bigger than his block of Greece forward Theofanis Gekas’s penalty attempt that assured Costa Rica of a 1-1 (5-3) shootout victory.
The 27-year-old was named La Liga’s top keeper last term after notching 160 saves for Levante, and he’s likely worth much more than his present market value of £3.5 million.
The Daily Star reports that Rodgers believes he can pry Navas away from Levante. Rodgers would like a top keeper to put more pressure on Simon Mignolet, and Pepe Reina is believed to be all but gone from Anfield. Liverpool should also have enough to pay Navas’s £8 million release clause.