If recent media reports are to be believed, Luis Suarez may soon make the switch from the EPL to La Liga and with details already being talked about in public –Barcelona would pay around 30 million Euros (the number was a high as 85 million before Suarez’s “incident” at the World Cup) to Liverpool and possibly send Pedro and/or Sanchez as well— the possibility of a deal is real. Thus, the question becomes not if Suarez will move from the EPL to La Liga but should he? Eric Duffy explains.
The reasons to move from Liverpool to Barcelona are simple. First, Suarez is currently one of the best footballers in the world and Barcelona is one of the ultimate destinations for world class players. The team’s roster—both past and present— reads like a who’s who of football royalty. By signing with the La Liga giants, Suarez will not only be taking his place among the best of the best but will also be proving that he belongs in the same class as them.
Furthermore, for the last 10 years Barcelona has consistently been one of the best teams in Spain and Europe. This means that they are not only winning domestic titles, they are also favorites to win the Champion’s League every year. In contrast, Liverpool haven’t won the Premier League since the 1989/90 season and despite qualifying for the Champion’s League next season, the current Merseyside squad are— in the most optimistic view— a few years away from being contenders for that title. By moving to Spain, Suarez instantly joins a championship caliber squad and will undoubtable win numerous titles and contend yearly for the second biggest prize in football—the Champion’s League. If the best players need to play on the biggest stage in order to showcase their talent and win championships than it doesn’t get better for Suarez than playing for Barcelona.
On that note, Suarez is not a player who shies away from the big moment. Suarez should have no problem overcoming the massive pressure that players at a club like Barcelona feel. Additionally, due to Spanish being Suarez’s native language, he will not have to deal with a language barrier and thus, could easily assimilate to his new team and culture. And when you factor in that his wife’s family lives in Barcelona, it is easy to see that Suarez may be more comfortable in Spain than he is in England. All of which means there is no reason why Suarez couldn’t be successful in Spain and for Barcelona.
However, there is a valid case to be made for why Suarez should not move to Barcelona. Most importantly is the Messi factor. Messi is a once in a generation player and as such requires the team to be built around him. Messi is at his best when he is playing with forwards who are happy not being the focal point of the offense. Instead, the job of Messi’s teammates is to make runs and create space for him so he can run with the ball and lead Barcelona’s offense.
This was one of the major reason’s Neymar struggled last year. Currently in this World Cup, Neymar—with the Brazilian team built around him—has been a superstar. However, he had massive problems playing with Barcelona as his job was to play for Messi. It wasn’t a coincidence Neymar played some of his best football when Messi was injured (side note: if Luis Enrique can create a system to let Neymar be Neymar and Messi be Messi simultaneously, Barcelona could well be unstoppable).
Can Suarez thrive where Neymar and others couldn’t? Or will he just be another striker Barcelona buys then sells off after a year or two? If Suarez struggles to assimilate to the Barcelona system he may find
himself a permanent spot on the bench and looking for a transfer before his thirtieth birthday. And Suarez only has to ask David Villa about the transfer market for strikers thirty years old and above.
Speaking of forwards and their roles, Suarez—like all great strikers—demands and wants the ball. Currently at Liverpool where he is the team’s main offensive threat (even with Sturridge’s present form) Suarez is consistently feed the ball and each game plan is built around him. Suarez can play in the middle of the pitch and receive the ball wherever he wants. Thus, at any given time, Suarez is the most important person in the team’s attack. If he demands the ball, he is used to getting it. Furthermore, he enjoys receiving the ball in the open field and attacking on the dribble.
That is not going to happen at Barcelona. At the best of times, Suarez will be on the outside and expected to make runs (with the knowledge he won’t be receiving the ball) or expected to give up the ball to another player in a better position (read: Messi). In short, at Barcelona, Suarez—a goal scoring machine—will be expected to support the attack, not lead it. A situation vastly different than the one at Liverpool that made him a superstar and a situation he is surely not used to.
Finally, Barcelona is Messi’s team. Any success they have in the coming years will be contributed to him and will only add to his legacy. In contrast, with his recent success at Liverpool combined with Gerrard’s age, Suarez can become the face of the team. Any success—especially a league title—will make Suarez a Liverpool legend. All of his mistakes (and there have been quite a few) will be forgotten and he will be talked about by Liverpool supporters for generations.
In these times, any player would be lucky to play for Barcelona. But there is a reason why world class players sign elsewhere; just because a move there seems right in theory, in reality it may not be. For Suarez to be happy at Barcelona he may have to give up everything that has made him (and most world class strikers) so successful. Maybe he will be able to do it but with the recent history of striker’s coming and leaving the Barcelona squad, why risk it? At Liverpool his future is now, at Barcelona his future may be over before it starts.