When the summer transfer window opens, Liverpool will have themselves a make-or-break offseason that could determine the future of the club.
The Reds have been linked to numerous players as things heat up at the end of the Barclays Premier League schedule, but the most important rumor Liverpool must deal with involves one of their own leaving Anfield for a new home.
That player is star striker Luis Suarez.
According a report by David Anderson of the Daily Mirror (via words spoken to Sports Illustrated), Reds managing director Ian Ayre is keeping his firm stance on avoiding conversations with clubs like Bayern Munich and Juventus about the 26-year-old star and is slapping a "not for sale" sign on Suarez as the window opening continues to inch closer.
Per the report:
To do that [build a winning team] you have to have a number of world-class players on your team. You also need to play at the highest level in the Premier League and European soccer, you need players like Luis and Steven Gerrard on your team.
So the last thing in our mind is selling Luis Suarez. He's not for sale. It's not something we're interested in.
Things have never been more heated at Anfield for the Uruguayan star, in large part because he leads the EPL in scoring with 22 goals despite his club being a clear 50 points behind Manchester United at the top of the league standings.
|2012-13 EPL Goal Scoring Leaders (thru 4/18/13)|
|Robin Van Persie||Manchester United||21|
|Gareth Bale||Tottenham Hotspur||17|
|Christian Benteke||Aston Villa||15|
*Stats courtesy ESPN.
Goal scoring is the most important aspect of what Suarez has brought to the table for the Reds, but the argument can be made that the club must do more to put pieces in place around him to build for the future and avoid another failure to qualify for the bigger European tournaments.
The Reds are already missing out on Champions League play for next season, one of the big reasons why Suarez might want to pursue his options with a club—either in the EPL or another league entirely—that already has a place in prime time.
It's one of the reasons Liverpool are desperate to add talent.
Though Suarez signed a long-term contract with the club (h/t LiverpoolFC.com), his value is high and the need to keep him happy to avoid a bidding war from other clubs that smell blood in the water is of valuable importance.
The Reds have been mentioned in rumors surrounding Ajax star-in-waiting Christian Eriksen, but it has now been reported that there is no deal in place between the two sides (h/t Mirror) as Ajax look to keep him around long term (though that is unlikely at this time).
Liverpool are also keen on keeping an eye on Melbourne Victory star Marco Rojas, who told reporters that he is keen on following his dreams and making it to the European leagues next season (h/t Sky Sports).
As noted by freelance football writer Duncan Castles, this is a key offseason for the Reds and their long-term ability to keep Suarez around.
With other clubs lurking—Bayern and Juventus—to significantly increase Suarez's wages both before and after Liverpool get the transfer window underway, what the Reds do at the start of the offseason is pivotal for the future of the two sides.
Right now, though, Ayre's stance on keeping Suarez away from any transfer talk is a smart move. By committing the future to the star striker and promising to add talent to the mix at Anfield, the Reds can keep other clubs at bay while figuring out how to improve their seventh-place standing in the EPL.
Now they have to deliver.