Alexis Sanchez Would Signal Intent for Liverpool, but Can Reds Justify It?

Matt LadsonFeatured ColumnistJune 6, 2014

Chile's Alexis Sanchez, goes for a ball during an international friendly soccer match against against Northern Ireland, in Valparaiso, Chile, Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Luis Hidalgo)
Luis Hidalgo/Associated Press

Liverpool's reported interest in Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez, as per Alex Richards of the Mirror—among others—certainly represents the kind of "marquee" signing that supporters crave and get excited about.

Sanchez, the 25-year-old Chilean, would undoubtedly be a superb signing—not just for Liverpool but for pretty much any club.

Richards' report claimed earlier this week that Liverpool and Manchester United had both had bids turned down for the man who scored 21 goals for club and country in 2013/14, including two against England last November.


Sanchez, Suarez, Sturridge

CARDIFF, WALES - MARCH 22:  Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool celebrates with team mate Luis Suarez after scoring his team's fifth goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Cardiff City and Liverpool at Cardiff City Stadium on March 22, 2014 in Ca
Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Clearly, a potential front three of Sanchez, Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge is one of the most lethal in world football. Suarez and Sturridge hit 52 Premier League goals between them last season.

Sanchez usually played from the right of Barcelona's front three last season, a role he could easily replicate at Anfield if manager Brendan Rodgers were to opt for a 4-3-3 shape.

Sanchez's experience at Barcelona, their style of play and the experience of being at a big club would clearly be beneficial if a move to Merseyside did materialise.

A player who hit 19 goals and has 10 assists to his name last season in La Liga would further strengthen Liverpool's attacking options ahead of their first season back in the Champions League in five years.

Throw in new signing Rickie Lambert and Rodgers' forward options would be the envy of European football. Certainly capable of competing in European and domestic competitions.

Last season Rodgers sought ways to break the trend in order to pair Suarez and Sturridge together as a regular front two, concluding the season primarily using a diamond-midfield shape. Signing Sanchez would, presumably, mean a move away from that formation as the primary shape for Liverpool.



That is because presumably Sanchez could not and would not be signed as merely a back-up/rotation option.

Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

A player of Sanchez's calibre, potential fee—around £20 million according to the Daily Star—and related wages would be difficult for Rodgers to justify acquiring merely to play third forward behind Suarez and Sturridge.

It's at this point that alarm bells may ring for supporters that Liverpool's reported interest in Sanchez could be in the case of Suarez heading in the opposite direction to Spain and suitors Real Madrid.

Alas, though, Liverpool refused to sell Suarez last summer when their position was much lower; being unable to offer Champions League football and with his contractual situation less watertight than now.

Owner John W. Henry is therefore very unlikely to allow such a prized asset to leave, with the club now in a strong position and seeking to build on last season's incredible progress.


Signal of Intent

A signing of Sanchez would therefore be a huge signal of intent. It would certainly show that Liverpool mean business.

Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

If the Chilean is available for around the reported £20 million mark, and especially if Barcelona remain interested in centre-back Daniel Agger, then Liverpool could acquire a player and easily cover the costs with the sales of fringe players such as Iago Apas, Fabio Borini and Oussama Assaidi.

Having the option to rest Suarez or Sturridge but bring in Sanchez or Lambert in their place, plus the option to play three of those four together when desired, would be an incredible choice for Rodgers.

While it's difficult to see how a front three of Suarez, Sturridge and Sanchez can work while accommodating the plethora of attacking midfielders already at and linked with moves to Anfield—Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho, plus reported targets Adam Lallana and Xherdan Shaqiri—it's safe to assume Rodgers has a plan, one way or another.

Any move for Sanchez, given that he was a regular for Barcelona last season, would likely not happen until the Spanish side have signed a replacement.

However, with new boss Luis Enrique supposedly keen to give youth a chance at the Camp Nou, perhaps Sanchez will be a player to make way for that to happen.

What's most pleasing from a Liverpool perspective is that supporters are now able to discuss signing players of such a high quality as Sanchez, without sounding unrealistic.