Liverpool were supposed to build off their incredible Premier League run with key moves during the summer transfer session catapulting the Merseyside club into another stratosphere before next term and the start of Champions League play.
Another outlandish biting incident on the pitch from Luis Suarez might have changed all that.
FIFA issued the 27-year-old striker a four-month ban on all “football-related activities” for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguay’s 1-0 victory in the World Cup. Suarez will miss the rest of the tournament in Brazil, the start of Liverpool’s campaign, and nine more international matches for his country. Suarez must also pay a £66,000 fine.
However, as the Guardian points out, no restriction was placed on Liverpool’s transfer options for Suarez. Moving the brilliant scorer seemed unthinkable only months after his incredible 31-goal campaign, but Suarez’s psychological issues on the pitch and the beating he has taken in the press might give manager Brendan Rodgers reason enough to consider some lucrative offers.
The only clubs capable of offering Liverpool full value for Suarez are Spanish titans Barcelona and Real Madrid, both believed to be Suarez’s desired destinations last summer before the Reds put together a Champions League-qualifying term.
It's a curious situation for all parties. Suarez's talent is unquestionable, and he appeared to be showing more of an interest to stay at Anfield. He seems to have good chemistry with his teammates, which likely played a role in his success.
Liverpool nearly sent shockwaves throughout Europe by nearly capturing the Premier League title last season, and Suarez was a key figure in their resurgence. Liverpool would be losing a superstar forward by transferring him, and there is no available replacement on the market who could match Suarez's production.
But with the FIFA ban, and the toxic presence he brings to the locker room, Liverpool may feel that they have little choice but to field offers. Any club that lands him would be adding a proven goal scorer, but also a potential headache.
Evidently, the Catalans are willing to look past Suarez’s second biting incident in the last year to the tune of £80 million, according to Daily Mirror. Barcelona even sweetened the deal by including highly sought after Chilean striker Alexis Sanchez and winger Pedro. Such a deal could be boon for Liverpool.
Freed from Lionel Messi’s shadow, the 25-year-old Sanchez could equal or better the 39 goals he’s scored in three years in Nou Camp, while Pedro has potential to be Steven Gerrard’s long-term replacement with the capability of acting as another striker along Sanchez and Daniel Sturridge.
The £80 million could also go towards Liverpool’s biggest area in need of improvement: the back line. Glen Johnson’s hiccups in the final matches of the Premier League season and his age, 29, are reason enough for Rodgers to seek an upgrade. Kolo Toure, 33, is also a year older, and Daniel Agger, 29, and Martin Skrtel, 29, likely won’t be more valuable on the open market then right now.
Enter Sevilla’s Federico Fazio, a 27-year-old center back valued at £8 million who’s currently in the middle of a bidding war between Rodgers and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, Daily Star reports. Barcelona are also in the mix as they seek a replacement for Carles Puyol.
Fazio spent the last seven years with Sevilla and in 148 appearances racked up 12 goals, but rather than score at Anfield he’ll be expected to anchor the back line for the next half decade.
Another option is Southampton defender Dejan Lovren, but Tottenham are hoping to swoop in, according to the Mirror. Essentially, the Croatian will have to decide between playing in Europa or Champions League, but Spurs believe they have the advantage with new manager Mauricio Pochettino the one responsible for bringing Lovren to the EPL last summer.