The return of Luis Suarez to the Liverpool first team could not have come at a better time. After starting the season well, Liverpool has stuttered recently with last Saturdays 1-0 defeat to Southampton highlight some inefficiencies in their play. Liverpool’s main goal threat this year has been Daniel Sturridge who after five games has notched up four goals but apart from the England international, goals have been few and far between. The over reliance of Sturridge showed on Saturday as Southampton shut down the player successfully and stifled Liverpool on route to all three points. The return of Suarez, fresh from serving a ten match ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanović on the arm during a match last year, will be a welcome boost to Brendan Rodgers and his team. The player should be fit and raring to go but few are questioning what if he will be 100% focused to the Liverpool cause after having his head turned in the summer.
It was a crazy summer for the Uruguayan who was subject to a £40million bid from Arsenal which was rejected outright by Liverpool. The gunners then increased the offer cheekily by only £1, in an effort to trigger a release clause in the player’s contract but legal language saved Liverpool from losing their prize asset. It was assumed that the clause written into Suarez’s agreement would entitle the player to leave for another Champions League club if the amount was exceeded but Liverpool argue that the clause actually states it would trigger negotiations to begin. Either way, Arsenal backed down and diverted their focus to Mezit Ozil, who they secured in a sensational last grasp move. Spanish giants Real Madrid were also rumoured to be interested in Suarez but with the delay in Gareth Bale’s move to the Bernabeau (a clever tactic by Daniel Levy to increase the returns for the player) and the eventual sale of Ozil, Madrid ran out of time, much to Suarez’s frustration. Noises from the player and his entourage during the summer was that he was ready to turn his back on his current employers who have supported him throughout his troubled time at the club but with no move finalized, Suarez is now backtracking and keen to prove his worth.
But what Suarez will we see when he returns. Undoubtedly a player of considerable talent with the ability to win a game with a drop of his shoulder and some quick footwork, he will be an asset to Liverpool when he finally steps back onto the pitch. But if his focus is on impressing onlookers like the scouts of Real Madrid and Arsenal who are still keen on his services rather than playing for the team, he may not be the player that was so impressive last year for the reds. His game may change and he could likely be more selfish on the ball, which won’t sit well with boss Rodgers who likes to play a passing team game. But with a lack of goal scoring threat, Rodgers can’t afford to leave the Uruguayan out of his starting line up so the question will be as such; will the coach risk breaking his existing team mould for Suarez and allow the player to play the game he wants to play or will he take a tough stance with him and risk losing the player all together? With a limp Manchester United, still hurting from the 4-1 derby defeat to Manchester City at the weekend up next for Liverpool, it could be the perfect time to unleash Suarez. Rodgers knows that he is putting his player in the shop window for all to see but if Suarez can start scoring again, Liverpool’s season may start o turn the corner once more.