Barcelona are reportedly prepared to throw Alexis Sanchez and Pedro into a bid for Liverpool's Luis Suarez, despite the Uruguayan striker's latest brush with the footballing authorities after appearing to bite Giorgio Chiellini during a World Cup battle with Italy.
Paul Joyce of the Express says Spanish sources indicate a "swap deal involving Chile superstar Alexis Sanchez had been mooted and Suarez was close to agreeing personal terms with the Catalan club."
Similarly, John Cross of the Mirror expects Barcelona to offer at least one player, plus cash, for the striker, who netted 31 Premier League goals during the 2013-14 season:
They are ready to offer Chile World Cup star Alexis Sanchez to the Reds as part of an £80million player-plus-cash deal, as they have not been put off by Tuesday's disgraceful incident.
[...] Barcelona could even put Spain winger Pedro into the deal too, and if they meet Liverpool’s valuation then Suarez would turn his back on English football.
Interestingly, transfermarkt.co.uk suggests Sanchez is worth £26.4 million and that Pedro would conjure up £22 million, meaning another £32 million would be needed to meet Suarez's suggested £80 million deal.
These are ballpark figures that highlight simply throwing in two players doesn't mean a hefty fee won't be involved. It's likely Sanchez's worth will increase after the World Cup, but these are the types of numbers being dealt with.
One may also have to consider Liverpool would have two costly wage packets added to their bill, ensuring the cash price could still be high. Both players have contracts until the end of the 2015-16 season, indicating their valuations currently stand in the middling range.
Spanish newspaper Sport believe a deal could be struck in the next few days, tweeted by Barca Stuff:
Sanchez's name is consistently linked with the club. Liverpool's need to push on in the Champions League next year sees Brendan Rodgers' side linked with a host of top-quality players, but stories continue to intensify around the player who cannot displace Lionel Messi at Camp Nou.
Liverpool legend Phil Thompson indicated a deal may be closer than many people think during an interview with Dublin's Radio Newstalk, where he considered the prospect of Rodgers replacing Suarez after his latest biting incident. Quotes come directly from the show's playback feature (listen from 28 minutes in):
"What will happen to Suarez? Will he go? Is it angling for it? Even just yesterday I heard things from newspaper guys with their ear very close to the ground at Liverpool, saying that the Sanchez deal was actually done."
Sanchez would be an ideal replacement—and even better colleague—to Suarez. It seems increasingly likely Barcelona will use the unneeded player as a pawn in a deal to land Liverpool's disgraced star, but it would certainly be a brave move to let both Sanchez and Pedro leave.
Despite a front three of Suarez, Messi and Neymar forming, Barca's strength in depth would be limited to less-fancied players such as Cristian Tello, Isaac Cuenca and Ibrahim Afellay. Granted, next season could be the year to witness Gerard Deulofeu's emergence in Catalonia, but that's a risky move for new boss Luis Enrique.
Of course, the new manager may have plans to offload unwanted individuals before bringing new stars in. He has already replaced Cesc Fabregas with Ivan Rakitic, indicating there will be changes afoot at the Blaugrana.
In a year which has seen Barcelona embarrassed with the Neymar transfer scandal, the departure of president Sandro Rosell and potential transfer ban, the club must ask whether signing Suarez is worth it. His third biting incident as a professional not only brings his image into question, it heaps pressure on his international side and club team.
Do his talents as a player outweigh the hassle?
As former Liverpool Jamie Carragher writes in his column for the Daily Mail, that question only has one answer when the player continues to offend:
"Now you get the feeling that Liverpool might actually be relieved if Barcelona or Real come in with a bid that triggers a move. If a lucrative offer arrives in the next few weeks, I am convinced Suarez will be playing his football somewhere else next season."
Those quotes come from a man who has worked alongside Suarez, celebrated goals with him and trained with him on a daily basis. He says "this latest controversy is something the club can do without," but after a few years of mishaps, Barcelona may feel the same.
Suarez's footballing ability will never be called into doubt. Footballers are more than on-pitch investments these days, as highlighted by Neymar's transfer, suggesting Suarez's value significantly drops when you factor in his behavioral problems.
FCB must ask themselves whether a player—equal parts match-winner and liability—is worth risking the cash and other personnel for.
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