Though some Liverpool fans loyally supported Luis Suárez, the wake of the World Cup left most happy to see their club cash in. Now the third-most expensive transfer in world soccer history, Suárez is off for Barcelona, taking his 31 goals and 12 assist with him.
To date, Liverpool hasn’t brought in another player for Suárez’s influence. That also may not be the point.
Explaining the decision to sell the club’s best player, Liverpool owner John W. Henry didn’t reference Giorgio Chiellini, or last year’s controversy that briefly left Brendan Rodgers angered with the Uruguayan star. Instead, Henry referenced the club’s return to UEFA Champions League, explaining the depth issues that plagued the Reds last season were untenable for the upcoming season.
Henry, from The Guardian:
“He brought so much to the club but we brought a lot to Luis. I thought we needed more depth; last year we needed more depth, and we’re playing a lot more games this year with the Champions League. I think you will still see a very explosive Liverpool offense.”
It’s a great reason, but it’s probably not the top reason Suárez is gone. Given the money Barcelona offered (£75 million; $127.4 million), the Uruguayan may have been sold regardless, particularly given Spain always seemed to be his goal. And between the bites and cultural adaptation concerns (we’ll euphemistically call the Patrice Evra incident), Liverpool could have let him go, regardless. If last summer’s Arsenal situation happened again this year, the Reds might jump.
The Arsenal situation did happen, only in much more lucrative way. Whereas the Gunners bid just enough to spring Suárez’s “release clause,” Barcelona nearly doubled that fee. Between that, the controversies, and the depth issues, Henry’s words have particular depth: “It was time for Luis and time for the club to make a break.”
There is one other consideration: Financial Fair Play. Just returning to Europe, Liverpool was not subject to UEFA’s budgetary rules last year. Now, after announcing huge losses for 2012-13, the Reds need to fall back in line. Whereas Henry and company spent big to get into Champions League, now the club must adhere to UEFA’s rules.
Suárez’s fee (and getting his salary off the books) helps, and while a prospect like Divock Origi may still take a chunk out of those profits, Liverpool’s FFP picture could benefit greatly from the sale.