It seems that Liverpool may have a battle on to keep hold of their prize asset Luis Suarez this summer. As the Reds face the seemingly inevitable prospect of yet another year absent from the Champions’ League, Europe’s big clubs are beginning to circle. As soon as we pass Easter, the transfer rumour mill notches up a gear or two, this year the talk has begun even earlier.
Reports in a local Liverpool ‘paper recently related that Suarez had said that he was keen to compete in Europe’s premier club competition. It’s a not uncommon refrain among the top players. The Champions’ League is now regarded as a step above club football, almost as a quasi international tournament. For clubs seeking to attract – or retain – the top echelon of players, it’s very much a case of ‘be there or be square.’
Currently Liverpool lie seventh in the Premier League, nine points astray of that elusive top four position, and with a mere eight games to play, the chances of eliminating that gap seem remote. Even Europa Cup qualification may beyond them, and this is why they may be vulnerable to a top continental club, who have that trump card of Champions’ League football, casting an eye over the diminutive Uruguayan.
Recent speculation has linked three of Europe’s elite clubs with an interest in Suarez. Both Barcelona and Real Madrid have the advantage not only of a seemingly guaranteed position at Europe’s top table, but both also have a Spanish-speaking environment to offer. In Catalunya, with David Villa reportedly on his way out of the club in the summer, Suarez could fit ideally into the Barca way of playing. Almost Messi-esque in both stature and style, it would seem a perfect fit. In Madrid, it’s a little less clear until the new coach is appointed to replace the apparently exiting Mourinho, but once Marca links the club with a player, any rumour has a semi-authentic feel to it, at the very least.
The latest club to join the queue of Suarez admirers is Juventus. The club is currently dominating Serie A, and is in the quarter finals of this year’s Champions’ League. It’s a club with a strong pedigree of success – if a somewhat more chequered one in other spheres. La Vecchia Signora have already apparently secured the services of the Fernando Llorente from Athletic Bilbao, and pairing him with Suarez seems an attractive proposition for the club. Again, a Spanish speaking partner could also have attractions for Suarez.
Clearly, Liverpool will be less than enthusiastic about selling the striker. His contribution to the fortunes of the team this season has been massively significant, and now with the prospect of a long term partnership with the newly-acquired Danny Sturridge, a bright future may be on the horizon. It’s not something that they’ll want to see jeopardized by speculation unsettling the player. Sadly, that’s the name of the game in modern day football, and as the summer window draws near, you can bet that unless Suarez comes out with a firm declaration to stay at Anfield, the pressure will only rise.