Convincing Liverpool Football Club fans that you possess the key—much less five of them—to ensuring Luis Suarez stays put at Anfield might raise a few eyebrows. The institutionalized skepticism, a side effect of the last few seasons, has made them tough customers.
They would almost unanimously agree, however, that keeping the Uruguayan ace in a Liverpool jersey is a priority if the club is to navigate its way out of the doldrums.
Suarez’s mercurial talent, dogged determination and an internal fire fueled by passion for his daily trade, make him the finer point on the needle that will lead Liverpool to future success. Warts and all.
It is something that Brendan Rodgers knows all too well. But in the face of the very real threat of no European competition next year, he remains confident that Suarez will stay.
But even if he is taken at his word, Saurez is a divining rod for success. In its absence, he will eventually be drawn to where it is.
So what would it take to hold the Liverpool No. 7’s interest through the duration of his contract and beyond?
Luis Suarez in Champions League action while at Ajax.
Getting into the Champions League is a minimum requirement for someone like Suarez. It is the level of competition he deserves. The prestige of Europe’s top flight sates his need to pit himself against the best on the continent and will hold his attention.
It is also a competition that the club will have to continually qualify for.
It signifies consistency of excellence. A club that can feed the addiction of nights under European lights has lured more than one Red away.
Simply being in it, however, is not enough. It is a competition that the club must excel in. A short campaign is almost certain to cause Suarez’s attention to wander.
Captain Fantastic points the way back to the top four.
Even though this necessity presupposes the last point, it is an important milestone in its own right.
It is something that the club has failed to accomplish since the Benitez era and a return to those days is evidence that the club is improving and strong enough to challenge for a seat at the head of the English Premier League table once again.
Suarez has already expressed his enjoyment in helping the club progress by getting into a position to challenge for domestic supremacy. So he will more than likely be coaxed into remaining and perhaps doing something that they have not failed to do—win the Premiership.
Suarez was close to FA Cup glory in 2012.
Scoring on his debut and being part of the Carling Cup-winning squad that brought the first piece of silverware through Anfield’s doors in six years was a good opening page in his chapter of Liverpool’s history.
However, in penning his name on the same sheet as Gerrard and Carragher, he will need to hoist trophies.
Getting back into Wembley and adding accolades might make it that little bit more difficult for him to leave.
Daniel Sturridge has been a welcome addition to Anfield.
All the previous points hinge on the club’s ability to get the right personnel into Anfield.
In his second season as gaffer, Rodgers will have to find that critical but elusive blend of youth, experience and system.
The progress made in the second half of this season is proof that Rodgers is already on his way to assembling the components he will need to compete. But inconsistent performances are also testimony that he is not quite done on the drawing board.
If Rodgers and the transfer committee are to keep the Uruguayan front man’s interest, it is imperative that they get the breadth and depth needed to build on forward momentum and keep successes bubbling over.
B/R’s own Karl Matchett wrote about the potential for a lethal Suarez/Cavani partnership.
However unlikely this scenario might be with the Napoli ace’s reported market value at £39.5 million and January’s purchase of Daniel Sturridge, it remains a juicy prospect and one that Suarez would no doubt relish.
Beyond the songs, the scarfs and the rows of jerseys with "7" on the back, and whether his indiscretions were concrete or speculative, the red side of Liverpool have supported Suarez and see him as one of them.
And in turn would love to be considered one of them. It is something that has endeared the club to him and not a bond easily severed.
The club has done their part by bringing in Sebastian Coates and rewarding Suarez financially. But it will need to go further.
Offering him a bigger role, like the vice captaincy once Jamie Carragher retires, would give Suarez added responsibility and increase his standing.
Deputizing him is an unmistakable sign that club has noticed and appreciated his efforts, and that they consider him a worthy heir to the captain’s band in the future—a sentiment echoed by B/R Featured Columnist Jake Rodd.