Sunday 24 September 2017

£10m-a-year Suarez deal is a bargain for Liverpool

Striker is such a force that splashing out to keep him was only decision open to board

Luis Suarez has agreed new terms with Liverpool
Luis Suarez has agreed new terms with Liverpool
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

Paul Hayward

Luis Suarez is the best player in England, so paying him £10m a season to stay for four and a half more years is the best piece of business open to the Liverpool board as they aim to secure top spot in the Premier League against chaotic Cardiff City.

For a club who blew £35m on Andy Carroll -- and made £50m from the sale of Fernando Torres -- lifting Suarez's salary into the top tier of Europe's superstars was a calculation a child could have made.

In a market where Marouane Fellaini cost £27m, and Spurs spent £26m on Roberto Soldado, a £10m outlay to keep Suarez counts as a bargain, assuming you accept the insane economics of modern football in the first place.

Anyone who has watched Suarez in recent weeks knows that here is a prolific, elusive striker who has become unplayable for most centre-halves.

The misery he inflicted on Tottenham's Michael Dawson and Etienne Caboue in Liverpool's 5-0 win at White Hart Lane on Sunday was almost painful to witness.

In a newly energised and confident Liverpool side, Suarez has found a support cast capable of allowing his talent to fully flourish.

Where once the sight of Jordan Henderson on the team sheet might have caused his spirits to sag, Suarez can now expect maximum assistance from the young midfielder, and several others.

Everywhere he looks, he sees dynamic team-mates working to provide him with chances.

This is nirvana for a world-class striker. Liverpool are improving fast and were inspired by the 5-0 win at Spurs to think they will return to Champions League action.

Football being an uber-pragmatic industry, the 17 goals scored by Suarez this term, and his brilliant all-round play, have shifted the focus from his diving, biting and use of racist language against Manchester United's Patrice Evra.

Some of his performances since he returned to the side on September 25 could be described as symphonic.

Darting runs, feints and drifting moves across the forward line have been adorned by stunning finishes: particularly in the 5-1 victory over Norwich, in which he scored four.

The better he looks, the more obvious the disparity between regular Premier League games and the big stage where a player of his talent belongs.

Equally, the Champions League is missing Suarez. These days, personal ambition is inseparable from pay packet.

Yet we can be sure he craves trips to Milan and Madrid as much as Liverpool fans want to see him there in a red shirt.

Against that background, this new deal will look fragile if Liverpool fall away into the Europa League places or even lower.

In September, Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard said: "If we don't qualify for the Champions League this season, he can go to Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich -- and he can go with his head held high."

REALISTIC

When Gerrard said that, Liverpool had no realistic hope of being top of the league four days before Christmas, as they will be if they beat Cardiff.

Everything has shifted up a level. But we can still assume Suarez would want to leave next summer if Liverpool again miss out on a Champions League place.

Even then, the club would be protected by this new deal. As Suarez scribbled his name on that sheet, Real Madrid and other top clubs must have let out a sigh. The cost of buying him has just doubled -- to £80m or so.

Enough, though, of maths and business.

For £10m a year, Liverpool have tightened their hold on one of the few players worthy of mention in the same paragraph as Kenny Dalglish.

This is a strictly footballing assessment, aside from the moral baggage.

With a simple act of logic, Liverpool have asserted their pedigree, with pen and paper, as well as the ball at their feet. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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