Henry, on Suárez sale: ‘We needed more depth’

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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.

Report: USMNT’s Arriola drawing transfer interest abroad, in MLS

AP Photo/LM Otero
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Paul Arriola’s motor was constantly running as the United States men’s national team claimed its sixth Gold Cup title, and it could drive him all the way from Club Tijuana to Europe or a prime spot on an MLS roster.

There’s a snag, though.

[ MORE: Everton wins Europa opener ]

Arriola is reportedly wanted by Real Salt Lake and clubs in both the Netherlands and Portugal, but the LA Galaxy has what Goal.com describes a “dubious homegrown player” claim on Arriola, who participated in a minimal of practices with the Galaxy when he was younger.

As you’ll see below, there isn’t much “homegrown” about it and, to its critics, it is peak MLS monopolized tomfoolery. Here’s how Goal describes it:

“He was already a U.S. youth national team player when he traveled the 120 miles from Chula Vista to take part in a handful of training sessions with the LA Galaxy academy and eventually the Galaxy first team.

“The Galaxy are believed to hold a homegrown player claim on Arriola, and would have the right of first refusal on making Arriola an offer if he comes to MLS. The Galaxy’s current salary-cap situation might not allow them to make a serious bid for Arriola.”

But… here’s how the Galaxy described his choosing to sign for TJ instead of a pro deal from LA in 2013:

“It’s a little disappointing,” Galaxy technical director Jovan Kirovski told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Friday. “He went through our system, we offered him a contract and he decided to move on and go somewhere else. But that’s going to happen. It’s something that has happened before, and it’s something that will happen again.”

Arriola’s response in the same article? “I thank the Galaxy for giving me a wonderful opportunity to train with their first team and be a part of their first team which really taught me a lot.” That doesn’t read as much like he “went through their system.” He played in at least one U-18 game, debuting in October 2012, did more training with TJ in December 2012, and signed for the Mexican side in May 2013.

Should that qualify him as Homegrown?

https://www.transfermarkt.com/paul-arriola/leistungsdaten/spieler/189876

Did Arriola spent significant time with LA, or is it possible the Galaxy might reap rewards from having an already established youth national teamer to practice when he was a kid? Whether you’re okay with that or not, consider that it encourages clubs to pilfer rights without actually registering or training the player.

Not to mention there is no guarantee that playing in the Netherlands or Portugal will be better for his development than MLS. Benfica or Ajax and potential action in European tournaments? Maybe. NAC Breda or Tondela? Maybe not.

Nevermind the quagmire that is American youth soccer clubs’ not earning money from transfer fees, the Arriola drama seems baseless. We don’t know the Galaxy will hold the player hostage, but they would actually be depriving MLS of a talent, as LA would theoretically get nothing should TJ sell him to a European club.

In any event, check out Arriola’s use chart from Tijuana and you’ll see why he’s valued by Bruce Arena as well as his suitors. He’s a Swiss Army Knife. Here’s hoping Tinseltown doesn’t stop him from a proper next step (assuming he’s ready to leave Liga MX).