Whatever the outcome of the typically petulant and protracted transfer saga involving Luis Suarez this summer, the decision makers at Liverpool must surely, at the second time of asking, learn a valuable lesson. Much commendation was given to Ian Ayre, Brendan Rodgers and his team for securing signings such as Kolo Touré and Iago Aspas so early in the transfer window. In an attempt to atone for last season’s disastrous release of Andy Carroll without securing a proper replacement, the Liverpool staff for once seemed to act with a degree of foresight and pro-activeness.
All of the early media hype surrounding highly rated Armenian attacker Henrikh Mkhitaryan also appeared to indicate that they were willing to make that step forward and splash out on a marquee, potentially world class signing. As a worst case scenario this could be seen as preparation for life without Luis Suarez, a player who was clearly becoming more unsettled at the club (for some reasons more self-inflicted than others). However, perhaps the astuteness of the Liverpool hierarchy was being over-estimated.
A repercussion of the Dalglish-Commolli spree of 2011 which saw Downing, Henderson and Carroll arrive for a total of around £70m is that Liverpool’s owners are now much more cautious with their spending. It was this that allowed Gylfi Sigurdsson and Clint Dempsey to be poached by the notoriously frugal Daniel Levy at Tottenham, leaving a dangerously thin squad in the wake of Carroll’s release. It was also this that allowed Mkhitaryan to move to Dortmund despite making it clear his preferred destination was Merseyside. It is as if Ayre and company have no pre-conceived notion of how much a player is worth; strolling boldly into the marketplace only to baulk at what they believe to be inflated valuations.
Having barely recovered from the shock of a world class player costing over £20m, the powers-that-be were then ‘ambushed’ by Suarez’s discontentment which was apparently visible to everyone on Earth but them.
Subsequently Liverpool are again faced with being caught short at the end of the transfer window. Admittedly there is still over a month to go, but this saga looks set to ramble on with Real Madrid yet to make their move. One can understand Liverpool’s reluctance to sell to Arsenal. However the question remains, why did the club not get a definitive declaration of Suarez’s intentions in June and then place him in the shop window with a £55m price tag on his head and ship him off to the Continent by July? A nice windfall with two months to find a probably less prolific, but less selfish, replacement. Instead, barring a late twist, Suarez will either be punishing Liverpool’s short-sightedness as a free-scoring Gunner next season, or as a disruptive Liverpool want-away.