Liverpool legend Phil Thompson claims the Reds have already completed a deal for Barcelona winger Alexis Sanchez, and in the wake of the events that occurred in the World Cup match between Uruguay and Italy, such a move could mean the end of Luis Suarez's time at Anfield.
Per Metro's Jamie Sanderson, Thompson overheard Liverpool insiders talking about the future of Suarez, while claiming a deal for Sanchez was already in place:
What will happen to Luis Suarez in the future? Is he angling for a move? Who knows. Just yesterday I heard things from people, newspaper guys who are very close to the ground at Liverpool, saying that the Sanchez deal was actually done.
In case you've been living under a rock for the past 24 hours: Suarez's future is up for discussion following yet another on-pitch incident, as he allegedly bit Italy's Giorgio Chiellini during Tuesday's World Cup action. The Times' Oliver Kay confirmed FIFA are currently reviewing the case:
Now, we could debate whether or not Suarez bit Chiellini and whether the teeth mark seen on the Italian's shoulder are real or not, but in truth, it doesn't matter. Once again, Suarez is at the centre of controversy, and for Liverpool, that's the only relevant piece of information right now.
Suarez is as troubled a player as he is a gifted scorer, and at some point, enough is enough. Will the Reds sell Suarez following this latest incident? We don't know. What we do know is that the amount of backlash he will receive from the media when he returns to England will be unlike anything we've ever seen.
Robbie Fowler thinks his position with the club has become impossible, as he told Talksport (h/t to the Liverpool Echo):
It’s a real, real tough predicament that most Liverpool fans are in. They love him as a player, but what he does, he’s continually dragging the club’s name through the mud.
It’s not right, especially after what they did with him last time when they’ve come out and supported him and tried to rehabilitate him.
You can’t defend him. Off the pitch he’s a lovely feller. He does so much work for charity, does so much in the community for Liverpool, and I love him as a player, but you cannot condone what he has done.
It’s just not right, is it? I would’t be surprised if he went now.
At this point, we've heard all about the incident and the reasons for and against a sale of Suarez, and there's no need to dive any deeper into it. FIFA will pass their judgment in a timely manner, and we will all learn what will happen with the Uruguayan striker.
But if Thompson is right and Sanchez is on his way to Anfield, could the Chilean be an adequate replacement for Suarez? And could the knowledge the team has a replacement ready to go for next season help Brendan Rodgers make up his mind?
Sanchez is a classic winger with excellent pace, a substantial bag of trickery and a great nose for goal. Via WhoScored.com, he scored 19 goals in 43 appearances for Barcelona last season, a decent return for someone who doesn't play directly in front of goal.
More importantly, he has played as a striker in every single one of Chile's World Cup matches so far, playing with a partner in his team's 4-2-1-2. The formation is based on the same principles as the one used by Liverpool, and Sanchez has been excellent in the system so far.
Suarez is a phenomenal striker, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a single player as adept at playing in a two-striker system as he is, no matter where you look. His 31 goals in 33 matches for Liverpool last season, per WhoScored, tells you all you need to know.
It's near impossible to replace such a high level of production, but as far as options go, Sanchez would likely rank near the top of the list. The Chilean has already shown a familiarity with the system, and there's little doubt he could strike an excellent partnership with Daniel Sturridge.
Would the arrival of Sanchez impact Rodgers' decision on Suarez's future? No. But knowing he has a suitable replacement could help the Liverpool boss pull the trigger on a possible move, and should it come to it, the presence of Sanchez could be what seals Suarez's fate.