'Liverpool will cope if Suarez departs'
DIDI HAMANN believes that Liverpool now have the financial strength and quality to cope without Luis Suarez and foresees another debate over the Uruguayan's future if his goal rate dries up in comparison to Daniel Sturridge.
The former Reds midfielder was sceptical about Liverpool's decision to stand by Suarez after his high-profile aberrations last term, and now feels they have improved to the extent that they could actually cope without him if further issues cropped up.
"If he had to go, I think Liverpool will be fine," said Hamann yesterday. "They have the financial ammunition now to bring a few players in. I wasn't too sure if they should have kept him (last year).
"Liverpool is a global brand and he damaged the brand on a number of occasions. There is no doubting his talent and it certainly helped as he started scoring goals.
"At the same time, moving forward, you have to see what will happen. He has played wider a few times and scored 11 goals in eight games when Sturridge was out and since he's come back he scored two. How long is he going to do that?
"Yes, he is playing for the team and the team is winning but the centre-forward has to score goals. He probably kept them up there when Sturridge was out but don't forget they played okay when he (Suarez) was out. I think they got 13 points from five games when he was suspended. Brendan (Rodgers) has a job on his hands to keep them all happy."
The 40-year-old, speaking at Carlsberg's #JOINTHEGREATS campaign, is confident that Liverpool will book a Champions League place for next season but generally believes that England's top clubs have fallen behind the best on the continent.
"If you ask me if there will be an English Champions League winner in the next five years, then I'd say no," said Hamann.
"Because it's not only Munich, it's Barcelona, you've got PSG, Real Madrid, even Dortmund without Lewandowski, you've got four or five teams that are better.
"You can always win one as we did in 2005 or Chelsea a couple of years ago – I don't want to say by default – but everything can go your way. But I don't think there's an English team in the best five in the competition.
"Not long ago, you could have made a world XI out of Premier League players. You had Drogba, Makelele, Robben, Henry, Keane, Stam, Van Nistelrooy.
"England had the 'golden' generation even though they're probably only 'silver' because they never did it in a tournament. On top of that, the foreigners were better. There's some good players coming through now but the foreigners aren't as good and this is why they don't compete in the Champions League."
Meanwhile, Hamann has offered small words of comfort to Ireland fans ahead of the Euro 2016 showdown with Germany after indicating that the supply line of stars in his homeland is slowing down.
He is not convinced they will perform well in this summer's World Cup while they rely on the veteran Miroslav Klose as a central striker and he is of the opinion that the side which Martin O'Neill faces in the Euro qualifiers will not have improved from the group which twice defeated Giovanni Trapattoni's team on the way to Brazil – although they brushed them aside with such comfort that it's hardly a major consolation.
"I don't think this German team is better than it was in the last couple of tournaments, especially with injuries like Gundogan and Khedira," he said. "I don't want to say they peaked two or three years ago but I don't think they'll be any better than they were last time when they won 6-1."
HIS PREMIER LEAGUE WINNER
"If you'd asked me last week I would have said City, now I say Chelsea. They've got the points on the board.
"You can't rule Liverpool out but it's not the team that scores the most that wins it; usually it's the one that concedes the least.
"At the moment Chelsea only need to score one to win games because they have got a mean defence and they've got the mentality. Once they've got a sniff of winning something, they're like a hungry dog."
THE BAYERN MUNICH MACHINE
"I think if they defend the Champions League, they've got to go down as the best team – you can make a case for them being better than Barcelona. I think Barcelona without Messi is not a Champions League contender. Bayern Munich without Robben, without Ribery, without Schweinsteiger, they can still win it, they don't rely on one player.
"But, yes, they are stoppable, in a one-off game anything can happen. Over two legs, I think the only one to challenge them is Real Madrid."
O'NEILL AND KEANE
"I don't think Trapattoni did as badly as he was perceived to do here but in the 6-1 loss to Germany there was no passion or desire or belief.
"Now you've got a couple at the helm that I think will instil that in them – Roy Keane is a winner and so is Martin O'Neill. I think Ireland will be better for it because the negativity is gone. They have a great chance to finish second in their group."