It’s strange to start an article by anticipating just what will be written in the comments section, but here goes: Gareth Bale.
As you probably noticed, having spent a couple of seasons carrying Tottenham Hotspur, the Welshman left for Real Madrid last summer, going on to take his game to a new level, win the Champions League and generally leave Spurs in a Tim Sherwood-shaped mess.
Roberto Soldado, Erik Lamela, Nacer Chadli, Etienne Capoue, Vlad Chiriches, Paulinho and Christian Eriksen all rocked up to White Hart Lane having been purchased with money which had previously been stationed in Madrid, and although some of those players had their moments (clue: Not Soldado or Lamela) none of them were of Bale’s quality. None ever will be.
Tottenham never really got too close to the top four last season, and they were prone to frequent embarrassment—not least when they played Liverpool, who hammered them 5-0 in North London to see off Andre Villas-Boas and then 4-0 at Anfield to emphasise that Sherwood was in over his head. Way over.
As they proved then, selling your best player and replacing him with a small army of new recruits isn’t exactly the healthiest way to go, but as Liverpool stand in the middle of yet another Luis Suarez storm, the thought of the Reds offloading him to pastures new has surely never been more prevalent.
On Wednesday, we heard from our own Guillem Balague out in Brazil, who confirmed that Barcelona retain an interest in Suarez despite the world still reverberating from the apparent bite on Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini.
Guillem suggested that, whilst Barca would be unable to match Liverpool’s likely asking price for one of the best forwards in the world, they could perhaps be in a position to offer one or both of Alexis Sanchez and Pedro in part exchange.
Such deals are incredibly difficult to pull off and would still have to be considered as unlikely, but would Liverpool actually improve by bringing in the duo? After all, this isn’t exactly Soldado, Chadli and Lamela we’re talking about.
Chile’s Sanchez has been one of the premier attacking forces at this World Cup. He looks to be a player who could thrive in a system built around him at club level too, rather than the one he plays in at Barca which ultimately and understandably plays to Lionel Messi’s strengths.
Similarly Pedro, a man who has scored a surprisingly large 87 goals in five full seasons in the Barcelona first team and 14 in 42 Spain appearances, seems to always be shunted aside at club level. No matter what he does, you know you’ll be reading his name in gossip columns every summer as he is linked with a move away. When Barcelona bring in a new forward—Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sanchez, maybe Suarez—he always seems to be the one to suffer.
He’ll be 27 next month, an age that should be far beyond the realms of a mere squad player. Suarez should know, he’s only six months older.
Of course selling your top scorer and best player isn’t advisable ahead of a campaign when you’ll return to the Champions League and have very real hopes of another Premier League title challenge, and Liverpool will quite rightly want to keep the ruthless Suarez that we saw so many times last season.
He’s now been a Reds player for three-and-a-half years though, exactly the same amount of time that Liverpool’s previous superstar forward Fernando Torres spent at the club. Strip away all that goes on on “Planet Suarez” and that’s reason enough to wonder if a parting of the ways could be imminent. These moves tend to be cyclical.
All of this is just conjecture though, but with Liverpool in a much stronger position than Tottenham were when they sold Bale—Daniel Sturridge is scoring goals, Raheem Sterling is on the verge of world stardom, Steven Gerrard is still around, there’s Champions League football to look forward to—it would be wrong to think that a sale would prompt a similar Spurs-like implosion.
That statement would become all the more truthful should stars like Sanchez and Pedro—two players that you could really imagine flourishing in Liverpool’s system—find themselves heading to Anfield, but all of that wondering is really for another day.
Until Barcelona make their move—something that may now hinge on a FIFA disciplinary case—we’ll never know.
And this will just be another uncertainty in the life of Suarez, one of the many that seemingly stack up by the week.