As was proven to ridiculous extremes at White Hart Lane last season, there is no real substitute for a world-class player, other than, of course, another world-class player.
Gareth Bale was last summer’s marquee departure from the Premier League when he upgraded from Tottenham to Real Madrid for around £80million off the back of a truly marvellous individual campaign. Knowing that it was virtually impossible to replace him with a player on the same level of technical ability Spurs decided to instead divvy up the colossal figure they received for his services, and then spend it on a number of good players rather than one brilliant one. Their approach didn’t pay off.
Naturally the way the scenario unfolded has already prompted comparisons to be drawn with the predicament currently facing Brendan Rodgers at Anfield. Biting scandals and a beaten reputation aside, his decision to allow Luis Suarez to leave for Barcelona in a £75million deal has relieved him - if only in purely footballing terms - of a world-class asset.
Far from being the end of the Premier League football as we know it from a purist's point of view, the Uruguayan’s exit does throw up a major question for Rodgers. Does he spend big in an attempt to directly replace the goals Suarez gave him last term? Or does he make a series of signings with the aim of nullifying the deficit through numbers and a more team-focused response?
Interest in Reus
The answer, or so it appeared, was the first of those two avenues. Reports yesterday morning spread like wildfire claiming that Liverpool were on the verge of joining Manchester United in the hunt for Borussia Dortmund playmaker Marco Reus, and would look to capitalise on the fact that he is open to a move this summer - coincidentally evidenced by his willingness to join Barca before they opted for Suarez.
A move makes sense no matter what way you look at it. The 25-year-old has garnered a strong reputation for being a consistently brilliant performer at the highest level and, though he only managed 16 league goals last season to Suarez’s 31, for an attacking midfielder his strike rate is impressive to say the least. He also managed 77 key passes during his 30 Bundesliga games. Steven Gerrard only accumulated 54 in 34 Premier League outings, whilst Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta finished on 45 in 35.
However, contrary to the likely wishes of half of Merseyside, updates on the speculation in hand revealed that Liverpool were baffled by reports linking them with the forward, and that Rodgers has offered no inclination that he will attempt to convince Dortmund to sell for a mooted £44million. Don’t worry Reds fans, we’re just as bemused as you are.
Liverpool’s plan of action
As has already been alluded to in this piece, Liverpool will need to replace Suarez with a player who is on his day almost as effective as the 27-year-old. I say almost because in the current climate there’s hardly a player on earth who can claim to be on par with the free-scoring striker, save perhaps Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.
Make no mistake though, Reus is a world-class asset, and one who could give Liverpool far more of a chance of enjoying success both in the Champions League and domestic front than they otherwise might have. Whilst the signings of Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana from Southampton have been astute, and the capture of Emre Can a nifty piece of business, none of the forward-thinking players signed so far this summer can sufficiently plug the leak Suarez’s departure will have inevitably caused.
Even Benfica’s Lazar Markovic, who is a regular recipient of plaudits from harsh European critics, can’t promise to seamlessly fit into English football and deliver the sort of routinely brilliant performances Reus’ record promises.
A move for Reus
With Reus supposedly licking his wounds having been snubbed by Barca in favour of Suarez, he could well see the present as the ideal time to move on and attempt to show his former suitors exactly what they missed out on. For a player of his capabilities a move to the Premier League, and the obvious attraction it has thanks to its reputation as being the most difficult division in Europe, would surely be amongst his personal ambitions.
Liverpool may have lost their talismanic operator who dug them out of trouble on more than one occasion last term, but fans won’t be nearly as forlorn should Rodgers give them a new hero to celebrate. Enter Reus.