Luis Suarez's New Liverpool Deal: Pros and Cons
Nineteen goals in just 12 Premier League appearances. The first player ever to score 10 Premier League goals in a calendar month (and he's still got two December games left). Fourteen strikes in just six Anfield games this season. The impressive numbers are stacking up for Luis Suarez.
Last Friday there were even more figures to take in, too.
The forward put pen to paper on a lucrative four-and-a-half year deal with Liverpool which could end up earning him as much as £225,000 a week, a similar amount to the division's top earners Wayne Rooney and Yaya Toure (Daily Mirror).
Whilst there is little doubt that the forward is the hottest property in the English game right now, are Liverpool banking on him a little too much in their bid to return to the European football elite and perhaps even win the Premier League?
With the Reds currently top of the table ahead of Monday night's meeting between Arsenal and Chelsea they'll certainly consider it a risk worth taking, but what are the positive and negative aspects of the deal?
Here we take a look at four pros and four cons about the decision to make Suarez the highest-paid player in Liverpool history.
Pro: Four-and-a-Half Years of Fun
You can argue all you want about the worth of contracts in today's money-obsessed game―and we'll touch on that again later―but right now Liverpool are in possession of a document that says that Luis Suarez will play football for them for the next four-and-a-half years. That's got to be worth something.
Whether or not Suarez will actually stay with the club for that amount of time is another thing entirely of course, and that will surely depend on if the Reds can match the Uruguayan's rapid development into one of the finest forwards the Premier League has ever seen. Whatever happens, it's going to be fun to watch them try.
The four-and-a-half year deal was a statement of intent from a club who have had to issue plenty of statements about Suarez in the past.
This one was wholly positive, and can only be viewed as such.
Con: Clause for Concern
The ink had barely dried on Suarez's new contract before the claims over a supposed exit clause were being shouted from the rooftops.
The Daily Star are amongst many who reported apparent agreements over just what would happen should either Barcelona or Real Madrid come in for the player in the future, but should such a situation arise then Liverpool will have made it clear that Suarez will come at a premium price.
There should be no repeat of last summer's farce when Arsenal believed that £40m + £1 was enough to sign a player who is performing at the level of somebody worth double that (Liverpool Echo), and so whilst it has to be considered a problem should any clause exist in the deal, Liverpool will have made it clear to Suarez that any such addition would be on their terms.
It is highly likely that the forward will one day leave the Reds, with the club now determined to handle it as amicably and as far away in the future as possible.
Pro: Timing Is Everything
Liverpool had just hammered Tottenham 5-0 on their own patch and were a win away from returning to the top of the Premier League. Some might have seen that as a good time to bury bad news, but it was actually a chance to add to the good.
The announcement of Suarez's new contract last Friday―a day before he scored two and made another as Cardiff City were beaten 3-1 at Anfield―only added to the feelgood factor around the club at the moment, something that they'll need to cling to as they make the daunting journeys to Manchester City and Chelsea between Christmas and New Year.
As a boost to a club who have had some trying times with their star forward it is a huge one, and whilst many might just be waiting to see what happens in these next two matches before making any proclamations of greatness, the good times are indeed rolling at Anfield.
Con: Money Matters
Given that we're often told how much money Champions League participation brings to a club, Liverpool have done pretty well to afford this contract considering that by the end of this season they'll have been outside of Europe's elite competition for four-and-a-half years.
They'll hope that the run ends then and there of course, but the concern has to be just what would happen if it doesn't.
Perhaps then it would be in their best interests to sell Suarez, simply because they couldn't afford to keep paying him the amount they do without it affecting them in other areas.
Following a few years of the playing squad growing increasingly inferior as star names left and were replaced by less expensive ones, Liverpool won't want to have to go through that again now that the squad looks healthier.
Suarez is the key factor here, and in more ways than one.
Pro: The Ammunition for Ambition
As Suarez goal after Suarez goal after Suarez goal gets beamed around the world, and Liverpool can be seen at the top of the Premier League table, Anfield must be seen as a pretty desirable place to play your football at the moment.
Of course there is still that all-important Champions League question, but players must be looking at the football the Reds are playing and the decision to hand Suarez a new deal and feel as though this is a club who are going places.
As seen with the signings of Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and Mamadou Sakho, targeting players who are less certain of a start at a fellow big club could be the way forward again for Liverpool after Brendan Rodgers and his staff pulled off such impressive transfers in 2013. Also, given the elevation of the club's status in the past 12 months, perhaps even more high-profile captures could be on the way.
Con: He Can't Keep This Form Up Forever, Can He?
Logic dictates that Suarez's current superhuman form will have to come to an end at some point, and then you have to wonder just how he'll react to that.
Of course he's likely to carry on and keep giving his all for his club, teammates and fans, but even the slightest dip in his displays might well lead to some pointing to the new deal as a reason. It is how he reacts to that will be key.
Keep his head down and work his way back to the top of his game again, or fly off the handle and self-destruct in a manner similar to what we've seen from him before?
As always with Suarez, it will be a compelling watch whatever happens.
Pro: The Owen/McManaman Situation Has Been Avoided
Real Madrid have always been one of Suarez's reported suitors (Evening Standard), and perhaps the team who he would most want to join.
However the forward's new deal will mean that Liverpool will have prevented Real from exploiting the contract situation of one of their star players for the third time―for now anyway.
In 1999 Steve McManaman became one of the first high-profile players to use the Bosman ruling to move to Madrid on a free transfer, whilst Michael Owen travelled the same route for just £8m plus Antonio Nunez five years later; a fraction of what Owen was worth but a necessary deal due to the fact the England forward had just one year left on his contract.
By the end of this season, Suarez would have had two years left on his existing deal, and which point it would probably have been worth Liverpool looking to sell in order to gain his full market value if he had indicated he wasn't going to stay. Real may even have pushed the player towards running down another year of his deal before exiting for a cut-price fee in 2015.
Either way, with the new deal Liverpool have avoided that, and ensured that if Suarez does exit any time soon he'll be doing so for an awful lot of money.
Con: The Bale Sale Is a Cautionary Tale
"The club is progressing and I want to be a part of that, so it was great to get the deal done."
"I've been here for five years now and I've enjoyed every minute. I love the club and the fans." (BBC)
All of the above are words taken from Gareth Bale's mouth when the Welshman signed a new four-year contract at Tottenham last summer.
However sometimes a player can outgrow the club, and that was certainly the case last season when Bale's wonderful individual displays weren't enough to drag Spurs into the Champions League places, with his exit for Real Madrid almost inevitable from the moment that Arsenal pipped their great rivals for fourth place.
It is instances such as this one which can make the fanfair surrounding contracts look a little hollow, and it is now the task of Brendan Rodgers and Suarez's teammates to ensure that a similar fate doesn't await them in the New Year.
Despite the new deal, the overwhelming feeling has to be that Suarez will be playing in Europe's elite competition next season whatever happens.
But the way things are going currently indicates that he might just be playing there with Liverpool, and the Reds can't afford for that to change.