Wanted: One World Class Striker

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Suarez has gone, the saga is over for Liverpool. A £75 million deal with Barcelona has been arranged and, pending a medical, the Uruguayan will be on a jet plane flying away from Anfield in no time at all. It ends a turbulent 3 years at Liverpool, and the controversies don’t need to be repeated. That side of Suarez will not be missed by the club, but the void that he will leave on the field for the Reds is daunting, a gaping vacuum that must be filled for Liverpool to continue their upward trajectory back to the top of English football. Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City will be back stronger next season, United in particular, and Liverpool will not keep up with them if their best player isn’t replaced satisfactorily. There is no available striker who’s impact on a match is consistently as telling as Suarez’s almost always is, and the merry go round that revolves around all the big European clubs is constantly in motion so it can be hard to jump on and find the right thoroughbred to carry you. Robert Lewandowski is going to Bayern, so Mandzukic has left. He has headed to Atletico Madrid, replacing Diego Costa who has gone to Chelsea. Chelsea have this young striker by the name of Romelu Lukaku, and his minutes on the pitch are going to take a heavy blow with Costa arriving. He might just be the player for Liverpool to spend some of that pile of Suarez cash on.

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Liverpool have another striker coming off a great season in Daniel Sturridge, but he played with Suarez in a sort of fluid interchange system for a lot of the season. He is capable of playing as the main and only striker, but his pace and dribbling make him an asset in wide positions as well. The slippery interplay between Sturridge and Suarez was something Brendan Rodgers would have wanted to keep going so, now that Suarez has gone, he needs another comparably savvy attacker. Alexis Sanchez is certainly that attacker, but Arsene Wenger has swiftly ended that as an option for Rodgers to pursue. He has joined Arsenal from Barcelona for £30 million (the merry go round goes on) so why would Rodgers not want to look at Lukaku? At Everton he showed a great ability to excel in multiple roles; his physical assets make him a perfect hold-up man, playing with his back to goal and laying perceptive passes off to speedy runners (Sterling, Lallana and Sturridge lick their lips), he has the pace and power to run in behind the defence, holding off defenders and finishing powerfully (Phillipe Coutinho’s loins begin to moisten), and he has the leaping ability, determination and near-recklessness to emphatically convert set pieces (Steven Gerrard has to take a cold shower). Liverpool did go and buy Rickie Lambert, but he will surely be strictly a back-up option. Lukaku thrived in the pass heavy, intricate system that Roberto Martinez established at Everton, so he should assimilate equally well into Rodgers’.

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Now, Rodgers may well think that Sturridge and Lambert will be enough to begin the next season with and that he ought really to direct that Suarez kitty to the area in most need of attention; the defence. And he’d be right, and also wrong. Yes, the defence is in need of bolstering, but Sturridge and Lambert are not enough for a team with serious title contentions, not to mention a whole Champions League campaign to negotiate. Lukaku’s market value, according to transfermarkt.co.uk, is around £22 million, less than a third of the Suarez kitty. He is still very young, with extensive Premier League experience, and is almost certainly eager to leave Chelsea for a team with Champions League football to offer. After a disappointing World Cup, he may as cheap as he will ever be right now. He is very much sought after as well, Everton want him permanently, Spurs are after him, as well a host of other viable parties. Liverpool has been largely unassociated with Lukaku’s transfer rumblings, but why? What other top strikers are available to Liverpool? Maybe Mario Balotelli. Alvaro Morata could be prised away from Real perhaps. Both would represent bigger gambles than Lukaku, for different reasons. Cavani would be an extremely expensive replacement. Then someone like Jackson Martinez from Porto would probably cost as much as Lukaku and might end up being a flop for the Reds. Lukaku seems, at the very least, a logical choice. You know it makes sense, Brendan. Tell me what you think down below.

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