Jan Molby

Liverpool must look beyond youth

Jan Molby

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Liverpool are preparing for the possibility of life without Luis Suarez. That is clear, and it is not news.

What has become apparent is that a £30m bid – believed to be from Arsenal – has been rejected. I think that is the right decision from Liverpool.

We’re led to believe that Suarez has a £40m release clause and, unless that is met, I feel the club should not sell him to a Premier League side.

The fans would not stand for it only a few years after Fernando Torres was sold to Chelsea, and it would be counter-productive for a team aiming to challenge these sides to re-qualify for the Champions League.

Liverpool should explore all options abroad before considering selling to a domestic rival – it is their right and, anyway, with Suarez complaining that Britain is not for him, it would ring hollow if he joined a Premier League club.

In terms of replacing Suarez, Liverpool need to be a bit more flexible from the ‘moneyball’ approach they are adopting. Transfer fees, it seems, will only be splashed out on younger players with resale value.

Now while that makes sense in business terms, you have to balance that with experience. Manchester United did just that with Robin van Persie, and that worked out rather well for them.

I was disappointed that a player of Mario Gomez’s experience, stature and record was able to move to Fiorentina with little or no apparent competition. They have had a good season, sure, but La Viola have not really been on the radar in recent years and you’d think one of Europe’s historic clubs would have moved for someone with such a good record.

Certainly he seems suited to English football. I’m sure Liverpool have other plans though.

One such plan was Henrikh Mkihtaryan, who looks set to join Borussia Dortmund from Shakhtar. He fitted the resale-value brief, as he is only 24, but has a fine record in Ukraine and for Armenia.

He was set to be Liverpool’s marquee signing but, for some reason, it has not happened. I’m sure the details will be revealed eventually, but I’m not so sure Liverpool had a Plan B – he was very much Plan A, and with good reason, as he was the perfect player for them.

Still, there are lots of forward players available in that £20-25m price bracket that Liverpool seem set to work within.

The fans may want higher-profile strikers, but the club cannot offer Champions League football and the likes of Mkhitaryan seem realistic. The club must shed this obsession with youth though.

It is all very well having resale value, but if they players don’t shine – and they are unlikely to do so without the right team environment – no-one will buy. Andy Carroll is an example here.

Sometimes, as a means to an end, you have to look to experience. Valencia and Sevilla have money problems of their own, and Roberto Soldado and Alvaro Negredo have fantastic records, and great experience.

They would also be available at the prices Liverpool will be talking about. Obviously there is a risk when you bring in players from abroad, but their styles of play and ability to adapt to different playing styles and environments bode well.

Negredo particularly would work for me – he wants to try England, he is a physical player but he has a fine touch and, crucially, a great record in front of goal. He has seen a lot and would be a great addition to the squad.

Resale value is an issue for the board and their ‘moneyball’ strategy, but Liverpool need someone to do a job over the next few years.

They might not be able to bring in a Van Persie, but the short-term project is to qualify for Europe, and they cannot afford to wait for youngsters to develop to the right level. As a means to an end, Negredo would be perfect.

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