Liverpool: Is Signing Roberto Soldado the Answer to Replace Luis Suarez?
Simon Johnson of the London Evening Standard reports that Liverpool could be set to beat Tottenham Hotspur to the signature of the forward, with Spurs unwilling to pay a reported £25 million asking price to get Soldado out of his Valencia contract.
Suarez himself is now in Australia with the rest of the Liverpool team as they continue their preseason preparations, and as reported by Sky Sports, manager Brendan Rodgers still expects to keep the Uruguayan forward into the new season.
Should Suarez eventually depart, though, would Soldado be a good option for the Reds to sign to replace the goals and excitement that the No. 7 brings?
Soldado the Striker
A true No. 9, Roberto Soldado has terrific movement inside the penalty box, has a strong upper-body frame and shows good anticipation and acceleration over the first few yards. Finishing is, of course, another strength of his.
Nominally right-footed, Soldado is also a threat in the air and scored four of his 24 La Liga goals last season with his head.
He doesn't bring huge amounts to the side in terms of creativity or outside the box approach play; with Soldado in the team, the idea would be to surround him with players who can continually create chances for him to attack from inside the penalty area.
Indeed, all 24 of his league goals came from inside the box, showing his close-range predatory instincts.
Soldado is a striker, plays centrally, and would not be the type to be rotated into other roles in the side as Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Fabio Borini all can.
Suarez the Forward
The most creative, unpredictable and enigmatic forward in the Premier League, Suarez brings his own brand of magic and madness to the Liverpool team sheet, and wins the side plenty of points in the process.
He's not a true No. 9, nor even a 10, but instead operates as something in between. The trick for Brendan Rodgers has been to try and balance his abilities with maintaining a presence high up the pitch in the penalty area for Liverpool, but also without compromising on the midfield strength—something which the team hadn't quite managed to do by the end of last term.
Playing from the wings as an inverted forward would seem to be a good option to utilise Suarez and keep a central striker on the pitch, but it doesn't appear to have always been the first choice of the manager.
Wherever he lines up, Suarez creates chances, is heavily involved in the link up play in the middle and final thirds, causes problems for defenders and also scores goals.
Liverpool's Options and Would Soldado fit?
It would not be difficult to see Soldado doing well in the Liverpool team supported by a 4-2-3-1 system with the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling in the line behind him, but this ignores the larger squad available to Rodgers and also the style of attack he has been trying to implement.
Sturridge, for example, would have very little place in a side set up this way, unless the manager went with a true two up front, though that in turn would likely leave no real place for Coutinho.
Should Liverpool target Soldado if Suarez leaves?
Far from being a similar, or direct, replacement for Suarez, Soldado would indeed be a forward of almost a polar opposite.
Movement and finishing aside, both invaluable skills for a striker of course, Soldado might not be expected to offer too much to Liverpool's attack, and Rodgers appears to be doing his best to create a squad of attackers who can swap, integrate, exchange roles and break into space at will.
Suarez, and to a lesser extent Sturridge, provide the option of dropping deep from centre forward to leave space for others to attack into. Soldado would be more likely to hold his position leading the line, necessitating a different role and support from the players behind him.
He'd be no bad signing, but in terms of merely replacing Suarez, Spain striker Soldado would in fact likely mean the entire attack needed an element of alteration, making him perhaps not the best fit at this moment for Brendan Rodgers' team.
Statistical data from Squawka and Transfermarkt
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