Brendan Rodgers has built his Liverpool attack around a certain type of player.
The former Swansea boss—who is famed for employing a short passing game that prioritises the retention of possession—has grown fond of the “tricky” forward. He has brought the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and Iago Aspas to the club—all players who enjoy taking on opponents and having the ball at their feet.
Upon joining the Reds, Rodgers also inherited the world’s trickiest of tricky forwards, Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan’s close control, directness and ability to dart between defenders is second to none and a hugely important feature of Liverpool’s play.
With Suarez’s future continually linked away from the club, it’s only natural the Merseysiders are looking at alternative options, especially now that we have one month of the summer transfer window left.
As reported by the Mirror, £21.8 million target Diego Costa is focused on his task at Atletico Madrid. The 24-year-old striker—who netted 12 goals and provided eight assists in 36 appearances last season—wishes to remain at the Vicente Calderon Stadium if he is still considered part of Diego Simeone’s plans:
I'm well here, I'm happy here.
As I've been in Argentina and Uruguay, I've not heard anything about this.
I'm happy here, if the club want me to be here, I'm going to be here.
I think that the coach counts on all of us, not just me. He knows how important it is to maintain the squad, the fans know it as well.
Atletico have already seen one star leave La Liga this season. As reported by BBC Sport, Radamel Falcao’s £50 million move to Monaco ensures Atleti are no longer forced to be a selling club.
Any potential deal involving Costa is going to cost top dollar if it's to go ahead. The Independent reports quotes given to AS by Atletico sporting director Jose Luis Caminero, who remains resolute in the face of speculation:
Diego Costa is a very important player for Atletico, we value him very highly and we are convinced that this year he is going to score a lot of goals with Atletico. He is an idol for the fans.
While the Brazilian fits into Rodgers’ ethos of buying developing talent, he offers nothing the Anfield crowd hasn’t already got. Costa is a decent dribbler, possesses good pace and has a real knack of drawing space. While a deadly finisher, he struggles to battle in the air and is often caught napping in offside positions.
According to Whoscored.com, last season saw the striker pick up 12 yellow cards across all competitions, the same number as Suarez. Although Costa shows great determination to partake in defensive work, the 12-13 season saw him manage an average of 0.5 tackles and cause two fouls per game. He is someone who breaks up play with niggling offences and momentum-sapping sloppiness.
Costa’s acquisition would represent a missed opportunity for Rodgers. If Suarez is to leave, the Northern Irishman needs to branch out on the type of player he likes to use in the forward line.
He doesn’t need a lumbering oath in the shape of Andy Carroll, but he does need a player who can win high balls, throw his weight around and cause disturbances that extend beyond getting clipped at the heels.
Although unavailable, think of Edin Dzeko, Fernando Llorente and Robert Lewandowski. Liverpool need a versatile, powerful forward to significantly bolster their ranks.
As reported by the Mirror, Stewart Downing could be on his way to Newcastle United for £5 million, while Martin Skrtel has emerged as a £12 million target for Napoli. Liverpool will obviously have money to spend whether Suarez goes or not, so Rodgers needs to take his time before investing in a forward who adds little to the squad’s current repertoire.
The stern manager may favour sticking with what he knows, but at this stage in his Liverpool tenure, he could benefit from broadening his horizons.