It is that time of the year when the gossip columns go into overdrive. No longer do you have to scroll to page 338 on Ceefax to find the most bizarre rumours from questionable sources, they are all over the web, print and overheard in the Fox and Hound where the regular who knows “Christopher Samba’s uncle” can tell you about the goings on at Loftus Road.
Worryingly for Premier League executives it is three of it’s superstars that will be on the radars of the world’s superpowers this summer as for one reason or another they are being linked away from their current homes.
Here we will try to use an iota of common sense to predict the whereabouts of these three players rather than the pure speculation plucked out of thin air by lazy journalists under pressure for the next big scoop.
Luis Suarez – Liverpool
Diego Armando Maradona, Paul Gascoigne, George Best, Alex Higgins and Kurt Cobain could all be filed under the category of “The Tortured Genius”. It is the god given talent that captivates throngs and yet it is their unpredictable and often combustible nature that has those same throngs yapping endlessly.
Luis Suarez can be described similarly. Certainly not as self-destructive as the 5 mentioned and possibly not quite as talented but the Uruguayan is not far off, on both counts.
Every man and his dog are aware of the current situation in that Suarez has gone on record saying he is looking for a move, citing the English media and his family as reasons, rather than the lack of Champions League football at Anfield. This being said perhaps toning down on the misinformed racism, having a bite to eat after football matches rather than testing the delicacy of Serbian forearm in front of The Kop might deflect some of that media attention elsewhere. Each to their own though.
On a purely footballing front Suarez’s stock has never been higher. He managed 30 goals and 11 assists in 40 games for Liverpool with exquisite solo performances, demonstrating magnificent technique and being far and away The Reds best player. He is able to lead the line comfortably alone, play in the hole off a striker or in fact in the new “False 9” position made famous by Messi and less so by Brendan Rodgers, whose Brentesque musings would confuse anyone, let alone a maniac Uruguayan with a slim grasp of English.
This flexibility coupled with the higher goal return mean the top clubs will be having a look but can they justify a gamble on a player who, given his previous, could be suspended for large parts of the season. A gamble that Liverpool are currently valuing at £50 million, the same as they received from Chelsea for Fernando Torres.
So who has previous for taking on unruly or potentially naughty children? Firstly, you would think it would be abroad. The the only teams in England who might spend that kind of money on a striker would be Man United or Chelsea. After the whole Evra incident it is unlikely Suarez would be too popular in the United dressing room nor in front of the Stretford End. You have to feel that Mourinho has had enough drama to last a lifetime during his Real Madrid tenure to be bringing in anyone of Suarez’s nature at his new post. In fact given Mourinho’s lust for a challenge he may just see his first duty to his Russian boss to inspire the misfiring and aforementioned Torres. If anyone can.
Next we cross the channel, the French by nature will always have a certain soft spot for the artistic, troublesome genius. PSG signed Ibrahimovic who is of Suarez ilk (although Zlatan would have you believe nobody is off his ilk). They certainly have the money for Suarez too but whether they see striking options as a priority is another matter, more likely a superstar midfielder is on the agenda at the Parc des Princes.
Monaco, the nouveau riche Principality club, may present another option for Suarez. One where his family would likely be able to slide in amongst the other super rich inhabitants of Monte Carlo without the apparent worry of paparazzi. This is under the proviso Luis doesn’t decide to superkick Prince Albert of Monaco during an awards ceremony. A South American striking duo of Suarez and Falcao would certainly get the attention of the European elite and that of Ligue 1 centre halves.
The favourites for his signature would have to be Real Madrid. Florentino Perez will be keen to outdo Classico rivals Barcelona’s latest blockbuster signing of Neymar. In addition to this Los Merengues have not been able to settle on a main striker with Benzema and Higuain’s form too inconsistent for the uber-demanding Madrid hierarchy.
There is a feeling that Daniel Levy will customarily drive a hard bargain with Perez for the signature of Bale from Spurs. That may well have the Madrid President wait a year for the Welshman thus making Suarez all the more likely move and available at a much lower price. For what it is worth he already speaks Spanish and may well fit in with the South American contingent at The Bernabeu.
No strangers to politics, controversy and media attention at Real Madrid this is the likely destination for Suarez. He will hope he can continue his fantastic form in not only La Liga but the Champions League too. Real will hope they can tame this genius and have a side with the wealth in technical ability of Ronaldo, Ozil and Di Maria to hand over to their next lucky/unlucky manager.
If they do manage to tame Luis Suarez and keep him on the pitch and off the front pages they will have signed a fantastic talent, whether they risk the £50 million Liverpool are demanding is another matter. Though If they were to look through the history books at these troubled geniuses it is very rare that a leopard will change their spots. A leopard that in Suarez’s case is a graceful predator, quick with incredible movement and yet more likely to take a bite than change his colour for anyone.