Luis Suarez might have been sent home from the 2014 FIFA World Cup in disgrace, but it hasn't stopped the Uruguayan forward being in high demand during the summer at club level.
With three other World Cup stars already on Barca's books as starting forwards, questions might be asked over the wisdom of adding Suarez to the Catalan club's ranks, but in truth Suarez has the capacity to unlock further freedom for Lionel Messi if new boss Luis Enrique takes a look at Messi's international set-up with Argentina.
The four month ban hasn't put off Barcelona's pursuit of a dream forward line of Messi, Neymar and Suarez - more details on the way on #SSN— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) July 2, 2014
A common phrase heard in Spain, particularly from rival fans, is that Barcelona suffer from "Messidependencia"—an over-reliance, or dependence, on their star No. 10. As one of the world's greats, it is to be expected that when he plays well, Barcelona play well.
Or, as is the case during the current World Cup, Argentina....well, at least gain positive results, if not actually play well.
Argentina are arguably suffering the biggest ever case of Messidependencia, with most of their star performers not hitting the heights at all so far. Sergio Aguero looked off the pace even before he was injured, while Gonzalo Higuain has been poor throughout. Angel Di Maria might have scored the winner over Switzerland, but before that, he endured a torrid time where nothing came off for him.
Instead it has been Messi, deployed just behind two forwards, who has dragged Argentina firstly through the group stages and then past Switzerland in the round of 16, with a series of goals, late flourishes and solo dribbles.
Suarez and Neymar
In looking at Argentina's system, naturally Barcelona would make their own adjustments to suit the players on hand (and would hope that more than just Messi played well, as had been the case with Argentina before the World Cup started) but the basic layout could certainly remain in place.
Offensive full-backs are as much a part of Barcelona's current set-up as their traditional red and blue jerseys are, while a three-man midfield—one holding, two pressing, creating and offering an offensive threat—provide both service to the attackers and protection to the defence.
Messi then gets to play between the lines—as a No. 10, as a withdrawn forward, as neither at all, label it what you will—and sees plenty of the ball come his way as he roams into spaces, looks to take the ball on the half turn and head to goal.
For the two forwards ahead of him, replace Aguero (or Ezequiel Lavezzi) and Higuain with Brazilian forward Neymar and Uruguayan Luis Suarez.
An all-South American front line; the front two offer great work-rate and technique, along with goals naturally, but importantly, can both do the work in the areas required: from the channels, pulling wide to create space for Messi to exploit, and making runs right through the centre to allow the Argentine to play through balls.
The prospect would be a nightmare one for La Liga and Champions League defences to worry about, and there would be plenty of interchangeability in positions too, with all three having played from the flanks and in central areas even over the past 12 months.
Obviously, another South American forward is somewhat left out of the equation: Chilean Alexis Sanchez, who had such a stupendous World Cup and even scored against Neymar's Brazil in the round of 16.
The BBC Sport report highlights that Liverpool are interested in taking him to Anfield this summer—a worthy alternative to replacing Suarez—while Arsenal and other clubs remain interested.
Liverpool adament that Luis Suárez will be sold only if £80m release clause is met OR Alexis Sanchez + £50m bid is made. [Guardian] #lfc— Total LFC (@TheTotalLFC) July 2, 2014
Pedro would remain in place as another squad option for Barcelona, who also have the likes of Gerard Deulofeu, Cristian Tello and new arrival Ivan Rakitic to offer game time to.
With promises of changes to come in the playing staff this summer, and a highly rated and demanding coach in Luis Enrique at the helm, signing Suarez would be the biggest statement of intent the Catalan club could make. And if he can bring out the very best once more in the man who has been the best player on the planet over the past half a decade, then Barcelona will have made a thoroughly wise investment.
As long as they have some cash left over for a centre-back or two, of course.
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