As far as pre-season friendly wins go, Liverpool’s 4-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund on Sunday was fairly emphatic. It illustrated the progress the Reds have made under Brendan Rodgers over the past year, even without Luis Suarez.
But as impressive as the win was, there are some weighted questions being asked of Liverpool ahead of the new Premier League season. The main ones being, can the Reds continue their progression under Rodgers, and how will they cope without Suarez?
Liverpool will never be able to replace Suarez. There simply isn’t another player out there with the Uruguayan’s irrepressible energy and dynamism. And if such a player is out there, they definitely don’t have Suarez’s end product.
Yet Rodgers must replace the goals they have lost with Suarez’s exit. Will the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling compensate by scoring a combined tally of around 30 goals? It seems unlikely, especially in the former's case.
Indeed, it is widely agreed that if Liverpool are to mount a genuine title challenge this season, they must sign a striker before the transfer window closes. But who is available, and more importantly who would suit Rodgers’ very particular system and style of play?
Recent speculation, as per Andy Hunter of the Guardian, seems to have anointed Samuel Eto’o as the man Rodgers wants to lead his front line. The 33-year-old is a free agent after leaving Chelsea last season, meaning no transfer fee would have to be paid.
Yet his wages could be a stumbling block, as was the case with West Ham, who reportedly baulked at his demands of £120,000 per week, as per Vaishali Bhardwaj of the Metro. Eto’o would be the kind of poacher Anfield hasn’t seen since the days of Robbie Fowler, but would he run the channels in the way Suarez did?
Ligue 1 has proved a fruitful marketplace for Premier League teams looking for undervalued talent in recent seasons. Newcastle United have basically built an entire team on imports from France. So many players have made the switch across the North Sea they should probably start a ferry route.
It’s a market that Rodgers could exploit, with the Anfield club linked with a move for Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette, as per Jamie Anderson of the Express. The 23-year-old is regarded as one of the brightest young talents in Ligue 1, scoring 15 goals in 32 league games last season.
But a move for Lacazette would be a gamble. The striker has been something of a late developer, only making his breakthrough at Lyon last season. There’s no guarantee that the £16 million mooted as the Frenchman’s asking price would be money well spent.
There is always risk attached to signing players from outside England. Cultural and footballing differences can hinder even the most proven of European strikers. With this in mind perhaps Rodgers will look within the Premier League for a new striker.
That might be Rodgers’ thinking should he move for Swansea City’s Wilfried Bony, who has also been linked with Liverpool this summer, as per Alan Nixon of the Mirror. The Ivorian enjoyed a successful debut season in the Premier League, netting 25 goals.
Yet not one of these players comes close to the quality Suarez brought to the Liverpool starting lineup. Although one name linked with a move to Anfield stands out as a proven, top-tier attacker.
Paris Saint-Germain are said to be open to bids for their Argentine forward Ezequiel Lavezzi, with Liverpool reported to be lining up a £17.9 million move, as per the Metro.
Such a signing would allow Daniel Sturridge to play as the central striker, with Lavezzi on the left side of the front three and either Sterling or Lazar Markovic on the right side to provide balance.
Whether Lavezzi would actually give Liverpool more of a pure goal threat is debatable, having gone through the last Ligue 1 season with just nine goals to his name, but he would create more space for Sturridge, just like he did for Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain with Argentina at the World Cup.
As things are, Liverpool will start the season on Sunday having replaced Suarez with Rickie Lambert. And that just won’t do for a team that has their sights set on the Premier League title.