Luis Suarez Must Remain at Anfield for Liverpool to Contend in 2013-14
Liverpool finished 12 points out of a UEFA Champions League qualifying spot this past season, finishing seventh in the English Premier League despite scoring the fourth-most amount of goals.
Led by world-class striker Luis Suarez, the Reds poured in 71 goals in 38 league matches in 2012-13, scoring an impressive 38 goals away from Anfield, ranking second behind only Manchester United in away goals.
But Suarez was a huge part of that production, accounting for 23 of those 71 goals. That's why the 26-year-old Uruguayan international must return to Liverpool next season if Brendan Rodgers' squad hopes to have any chance of contending for the Premier League and a future berth in the UEFA Champions League.
Recently, Rodgers has maintained that Suarez is content at Anfield and that he's not for sale this summer, according to NESN.com:
There’s certainly no pressure for the club to sell him. We’re trying to build that bit of quality so he’s not for sale. I don’t have any doubts there will be interest in him this summer, because he’s up there.
One quick glance at the stat sheet is all it takes to see why Suarez is such a coveted piece at the moment.
Only Manchester United's Robin van Persie (26 goals) scored more goals in league play than Suarez last season. And like van Persie, Suarez recorded two hat tricks of his own in wins over Norwich City and Wigan.
Over/Under 22.5 league goals for Luis Suarez in 2013-14?
With talents like Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard—who combined to score 19 Premier League goals last season—there to play a supporting role alongside Suarez, the Reds possess the attacking prowess required to contend with the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City at the top of the league table.
If the Reds lose Suarez to another club this offseason, then the best they can hope for in 2013-14 is another seventh-place finish in the Premier League.
Luis Suarez's presence on Liverpool's squad is the biggest advantage the club has right now, and keeping him at Anfield is the only way Rodgers and company can ensure contention next season.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.
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