Liverpool

Wilfried Bony No Substitute for Luis Suarez, but Few Liverpool Targets Will Be

Swansea City's Wilfried Bony celebrates his goal during their English Premier League soccer match against Sunderland,  at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland, England, Sunday, May 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
Scott Heppell/Associated Press
Matt LadsonFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2014

As Luis Suarez's move to Barcelona edges ever closer—the Uruguayan is to be unveiled at the Nou Camp next Wednesday according to reports in Spain, via The IndependentLiverpool are inevitably going to be linked with a host of forwards to replace the 27-year-old.

The problem with that sentence, and the mindset of supporters is the word "replace." Let's face it, Suarez is irreplaceable; you can't replace somebody so unique as Suarez, so instead you must change and adapt the plan.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 30:  Luis Suarez (R) and Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool prepare to kick off during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on March 30, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Live
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Last season saw Brendan Rodgers adapt his plan and ideal shape, doing whatever he could to accommodate both Suarez and Daniel Sturridge as central strikers.

Early on in the campaign, the Liverpool manager used a 3-4-1-2 shape to allow them to partner each other. Later, he moved to a midfield diamond—with success—and in between times the two of them switched roles from centre and left-sided forward in-match while playing 4-3-3.

Rodgers adapted his plans according to those he had as his disposal. It just so happened that two of his players were the top-two goalscorers in the Premier League so he had to do what he could to get the best from them both; even if this meant sacrificing control of the game, being more open at the back, or changing shape from his preferred 4-3-3.

 

Bony

One player being linked with a move is Swansea striker Wilfried Bony, with Sky Sports reporter Peter O'Rourke claiming that advanced talks are taking place:

Liverpool in advanced talks with Swansea over Wilfried Bony with player's agent thought to be meeting Liverpool officials. #LFC #swansfc

— Pete O'Rourke (@SkySportsPeteO) July 11, 2014

The Mirror's Darren Lewis claims the Ivory Coast international has a £19 million release clause and that the player is keen to move from the Welsh club and take the opportunity to play a higher level.

FORTALEZA, BRAZIL - JUNE 24:  Wilfried Bony of the Ivory Coast celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between Greece and the Ivory Coast at Castelao on June 24, 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil.  (Photo by Ja
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

The 25-year-old scored 16 times for Swansea in the Premier League last season, plus another three in the Europa League. He also created 25 goalscoring chances, according to Squawka.

Bony is a player capable of providing a physical presence in the attacking third, who can hold up play for the runners around him. His aerial ability both in an attacking and defensive sense would add qualities to the Liverpool side.

He's also shown he can finish, for both club and country, and he knows what he could do if surrounded by quality players who provide him chances with great frequency.

 

Depth

Suarez's departure leaves a clear lack of depth in Liverpool's attack, especially given Sturridge's somewhat frequent injury problems.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 11:  Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool celebrates as he scores their second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Newcastle United at Anfield on May 11, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Laurence Gri
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Rodgers is likely to change back to his ideal 4-3-3 shape in the wake of Suarez's departure, meaning Sturridge is the main centre-forward. With the likes of Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho and Lazar Markovic capable of playing in the wide-forward areas.

New signing Rickie Lambert is then the only player capable of playing the central role, especially if Fabio Borini and Iago Aspas leave the club as expected this summer.

Therefore, a player such as Bony would contest the centre-forward role, with Sturridge unable to play every game, especially given Champions League involvement. But Rodgers could also look to pair the two alongside each other if he wished.

Bony wouldn't though immediately be a first XI player for Liverpool, so the idea that he's a replacement for Suarez, who was clearly the first name on the teamsheet, is slightly absurd.

 

Ideal Scenario

The ideal scenario, for supporters at least, would perhaps be that Liverpool acquire a player such as Marco Reus, the Borussia Dortmund attacking midfielder who is capable of playing anywhere across the forward positions—as well as a forward who can compete with Sturridge.

NAPLES, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 18: Marco Reus of Borussia Dortmund in action during the Uefa Champions League Group F match between Napoli and Borussia Dortmund at Stadio San Paolo on September 18, 2013 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Reus would replace Suarez for the work he does outside of the box, committing defenders, taking them on and creating chances for the other attackers. The 25-year old created 90 chances in 30 appearances for Dortmund last season, as per Squawka (compared to 87 in 33 games for Suarez).

Acquiring a player of Reus' quality, plus a forward, would go some way to reshaping the Liverpool squad.

The other way which Rodgers could see the situation is that he already has the replacement for Suarez's work outside the box in Raheem Sterling. The 19-year-old effectively replaces Suarez in the side, so instead players must be signed to replace Sterling; see Lallana and Markovic.

Let's be clear, Bony would not be a replacement for Suarez, a change of Liverpool's style and formation will be.

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