10 Forwards Liverpool Should Target as Potential Replacement for Luis Suarez
Having signed a lucrative long-term deal at Anfield last December, Luis Suarez may finally get his wish to leave Liverpool this summer, with the Daily Mail's Simon Jones reporting that he is set to complete an £80 million move to Barcelona this weekend.
Despite being embroiled in a biting incident—Suarez is currently appealing against a four-month football-wide ban—if reports are true, the Uruguayan will become one of the most expensive footballers of all time, rocketing into the Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale bracket.
The latest reports suggest that the Reds will receive a cash-only payment instead of a package deal involving Barcelona players, which means that Brendan Rodgers will likely have a sizeable transfer chest for him to secure a replacement for Suarez this summer.
It won’t be easy. Suarez proved last season that he has become one of the very best players in the world, and replacing his goals, creativity and work rate up front will be a decision that can make or break Rodgers’ thus-far encouraging career at Anfield.
Here are 10 forwards that he should be looking at as a potential replacement for his current No. 7. Let us know your picks and suggestions in the comments below.
The hottest name on the market is also one being closely linked with Liverpool; indeed, Alexis Sanchez had been mooted to form part of Barcelona’s transfer bid for Suarez, according to the Telegraph's Jeremy Wilson and Chris Bascombe.
However, Arsenal have also registered their interest in the Chilean forward, who reportedly favors a move to London and indeed may be the reason behind a straight cash deal from Barcelona.
Yet Sanchez showed at the World Cup that he has all the makings of a world star and is far too talented to continually play second fiddle to the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar at Camp Nou.
He is the forward option on the market that arguably most resembles Suarez in terms of goalscoring, dribbling, work rate and physique. If Sanchez moves to a Premier League title rival, Liverpool’s upcoming campaign might become all that more difficult.
Another name closely linked with a move to Anfield is Bayern Munich’s Xherdan Shaqiri, who starred for Switzerland in their World Cup campaign.
According to the Mirror's Ben Burrows, the Reds’ long-running pursuit of Shaqiri could be “nearing its end game,” with numerous sources suggesting that Liverpool have emerged as the likeliest next destination for the winger.
Long mooted to become a star at the top level, Shaqiri impressed during his intermittent appearances for Bayern last season and proved his potential with a scintillating hat trick in Switzerland’s 3-0 victory over Honduras in the group stage of the World Cup.
His small but stocky frame means that while he wouldn’t be winning too many aerial duels in the Premier League, he has the physicality and ability on the ball to be a huge success with the Reds.
Angel di Maria
Next up in the big-name category is Real Madrid’s Angel di Maria, who scored the winning goal for Argentina in the last few minutes of extra time to secure their progression into the World Cup quarterfinals at the expense of Shaqiri’s Switzerland.
With Real Madrid linked with a move for AS Monaco and Colombia wunderkind James Rodriguez following his exploits in Brazil, Los Blancos have reportedly made Di Maria available for transfer, according to the Daily Star's Gary Jones.
Pace, trickery and an eye for goal—if Suarez is to leave Anfield, Liverpool would need to have a trump card up their sleeves if they don’t go for Di Maria this summer.
Griezmann has since forced his way into France’s World Cup squad, scoring three times during Les Bleus’ pre-tournament friendlies and starting in Didier Deschamps’ side in their first group stage match against Honduras.
With Alexis Sanchez and Xherdan Shaqiri dominating the Liverpool headlines recently, the Express's Ben Jefferson has linked Griezmann with Arsenal and Chelsea, but he would be a fine signing for Brendan Rodgers’ side.
He offers pace, vision and goals—and at just 23 years of age, has plenty of time on his side to develop under Rodgers’ tutelage.
According to Mundo Deportivo (via the Daily Star's Rhys Turrell), Rodgers has also registered his interest in AC Milan and ex-Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli, who has been criticized for his performances in Italy's World Cup campaign.
Balotelli was strongly linked with a move to Arsenal—reportedly also Liverpool's competitors for Alexis Sanchez—but Milan president Silvio Berlusconi has claimed that a £28 million deal has stalled because of Balotelli's displays in Brazil, per the Independent's Tom Sheen.
The Liverpool hierarchy would probably need to think twice about replacing a volatile striker with a fellow forward with a well-known history of controversial antics, but Balotelli's big-game temperament and composure is also a trait that will appeal to Rodgers.
Who knows—maybe Rodgers could be the manager to finally rein Balotelli in and unlock his full undoubted potential.
For some players, a great World Cup campaign is the springboard to even greater heights in his club career. An example is Colombia's Juan Cuadrado, who, on the back of his impressive performances this summer, is now being linked with the likes of Bayern Munich and Manchester United, according to the Express's Anthony Chapman.
Cuadrado, who plays his club football for Fiorentina in Serie A, has long been known around Europe as a star dribbler, but his mercurial displays in Brazil have reportedly turned the heads of even the biggest clubs in the world.
United have allegedly already made an opening bid of £30 million, but Fiorentina will likely ask for more as they look to cash in on their prized asset while his value is at an all-time high.
£30 million may be a price slightly too steep for Liverpool even considering their financial muscle post any Suarez move, but Cuadrado would be an excellent addition to the Reds' brand of attacking football.
Now for a couple of lesser-known names who have their best years ahead of them, the first of which is Juan Manuel Iturbe, who starred in Italy for Hellas Verona last season with eight goals in 33 Serie A appearances.
Since breaking into Paraguayan club Cerro Porteno aged just 16, Iturbe has been dubbed the new Lionel Messi, a sign of just how highly rated he is in Argentina.
According to Goal.com's Carlo Garganese, both Juventus and AC Milan are interested in the 21-year-old forward, with Verona holding out for £30 million, which is a very steep price for a player who had to return to Argentina on loan with River Plate after failing to impress at FC Porto.
Back in May, the Express' Jamie Anderson reported that Liverpool had been monitoring Iturbe's progress. He may well develop into one of the most talented attackers around, but for the Reds to make a move for him, Verona will need to lower their asking price just a little bit.
Our next young star is Lille's Divock Origi, who has been attracting attention with his exploits for Belgium at the World Cup, where he displaced Romelu Lukaku in Marc Wilmots' starting XI in their round of 16 match against the United States.
The Express's Ben Jefferson claims that Liverpool are the front-runners for his signature, but that the Ligue 1 club have demanded that he be loaned back to them next season for his continued development.
By scoring a late winner over Russia in the group stages, Origi became the youngest goal-scorer in Belgian World Cup history, and it's clear that with his eye for goal and pace to burn, he has a bright future in the game.
It's up to Liverpool to convince Lille to release Origi this summer so they can start grooming their next successor to Luis Suarez.
Rumors linking 20-year-old Serb Lazar Markovic to Liverpool have intensified, as the Mirror's Aaron Flanagan reports that Brendan Rodgers is looking to secure the services of the £25 million-rated star.
We did a scouting report on Markovic back in April when his name was first linked with Liverpool, where we concluded that he would be a luxury option to be targeted only if the rest of the squad had been upgraded.
A few months on, with Suarez rumored to be on his way out of Anfield, Liverpool's forward department may be in need of some flair and unpredictability up front.
Markovic, who has also reportedly caught the eye of Chelsea, offers both in abundance, as he showed in an encouraging domestic campaign with Benfica last season. As ever, the price tag will be the main issue.
Back in late April, the Daily Star's Paul Hetherington claimed that Liverpool were looking at two players from Bayer Leverkusen. Now that Emre Can's signature has been announced by the Anfield club, perhaps it is time for Rodgers to revisit the second player he's rumored to be interested in.
Son Heung-min had a lackluster World Cup campaign for South Korea, but that only slightly overshadows his impressive exploits at club level in the Bundesliga last season.
With his creativity, vision and goalscoring ability, he has proved to be a star in Germany and one of the most promising prospects in all of Europe.
Son wouldn't be the big name to get Liverpool fans salivating, but his style of play may fit seamlessly into the Reds' forward line and he may prove to be a pleasant surprise, just as Rodgers will be hoping Can does next season.