Luis Suarez's Role with Liverpool Shouldn't Be in Doubt Despite Hot Start
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, even when it comes to Luis Suarez.
Since his 10-match ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic, Liverpool have taken 19 out of a possible 21 points in their Premier League matches, which includes a perfect start to the 2013/14 campaign. Some supporters might start to wonder if the Reds even need Suarez at all. Why not just go with what's working and build the side around Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge?
There's virtually no chance Liverpool sell Suarez. There's so little time to find a replacement, and Real Madrid are likely out of the running after paying €100 million for Gareth Bale, via Sky News. If Madrid are out, there aren't any other foreign clubs that would be able to meet Liverpool's asking price.
Don't get me wrong. Suarez's present importance to Liverpool is a question that needs asking. Any time you have a side playing this well, you don't want to mess it up, especially with a volatile player like the Uruguayan star.
However, it's a question that only has one answer.
What gets lost in his time off the pitch is just how skilled of a player Suarez is. When he's at his best, he's one of the best centre-forwards in the world, period. His ability to dart through a defence is almost unmatched. The finishing also improved a lot last season. You cannot keep a player like that out of the side, especially when you're challenging for a top-four place.
Where do you see Luis Suarez fitting into Liverpool's attack?
According to WhoScored.com, Suarez was tied with Gareth Bale at 7.89 as the highest-rated player in the Premier League. He was second in goals, with 23, and his 2.7 key passes a game were tied for third in the league, as well.
Liverpool must have this kind of difference-maker on the pitch if they're going to get back into the Champions League.
The Reds don't have a wealth of goalscorers. It's pretty much Sturridge, Suarez and Iago Aspas. You don't really trust Fabio Borini yet, and Raheem Sterling and Luis Alberto are still acclimatizing themselves to the Premier League.
Sooner or later, Sturridge is going to drop in form a bit. He can't possibly keep up this pace, and while he should still remain an attacking threat, you want to have that secondary option for when he goes through a rough patch.
Suarez has always looked like the kind of forward who needed that partner who stuck closer to goal. He has that kind of support now. He can look to make the runs from deeper positions, while the in-form Sturridge hovers around a little closer to the 18-yard box.
As to how Brendan Rodgers will use Suarez, there are a couple of options.
He could put the Uruguayan in behind Sturridge, much as Aspas is being deployed. Perhaps Suarez could be used out wide as more of an attacking option than Jordan Henderson. Maybe you play him on the left as more of an inverted winger and play Coutinho through the centre.
No matter where you put Suarez, he's going to thrive and be a key cog in Liverpool's attack.
This is Liverpool's best chance for Champions League qualification in the past two or three years. To think Suarez won't help that pursuit and make the club better is foolish.
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