There aren’t that many seasons left for Steven Gerrard at the highest level of the Premier League, and he’s hoping to make the most of his remaining time as a prominent figure on the Liverpool team, which in part will be determined by whether or not the club can manage to keep Luis Suarez.
Judging by the second half of last season and especially after the arrivals of Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool are better than their 7th place finish, and are probably a bit closer than their point differential form the fourth place last finish. While not everyone on the club is making declarations and announcements about their goals for next season, anything less than fourth place will be disappointing, at least before the first whistle of the season.
Luis Suarez’ time at Liverpool has signaled a change. From 2007 to 2009, it seemed like Steven Gerrard finally found a partner to take the load off his back – Fernando Torres. The problem was Torres’ injury issues, which kept him off the pitch for too many matches, as Liverpool eventually struggled hanging on to the top 4 and dropped out, never to return since. The reliance on Gerrard’s ability and leadership in the midfield remained, while Torres’ scoring ability didn’t matter when he wasn’t playing half the time.
Then came Luis Suarez, who needed some time to adjust. But it was evident, quite quickly, that his presence has become the most important for the club. While Steven Gerrard began his decline, both physically and in his ability to be a major force on the pitch, Liverpool once again became a club that depends solely on one player for good or bad.
The changes made by Liverpool over the last six months were done in order to correct that. Put another dominant on-the-ball player like Coutinho in the lineup, while Sturridge, a very gifted goalscorer when he’s in a lineup and is consistently used, can make up for Suarez, to an extent.
But even with the new arrivals of Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas, Suarez is the team’s only world class player, which are getting a rarer breed in the slowly depleting Premier League. Him staying at Anfield gives Liverpool an edge as Brendan Rodgers begins his crucial second season with the club – maybe even an edge to put them back in the top 4.
Luis is the best footballer I’ve ever played with and alongside Gareth Bale, Luis is the third best player in the world after Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo at the moment. When you’re in that position, you’re going to get all kinds of teams wanting to pull you away, especially when you are at a club not in the Champions League.
I don’t think Arsenal is a step up. In an ideal scenario we keep Suarez, make one or two more signings and Tottenham lose Bale. I don’t want to disrespect Arsenal. They’re a wonderful club with a manager who I’ve an awful amount of respect for and they have talented players throughout the team but so have we. We’ve got just as good a chance of achieving things as Arsenal have. (Steven Gerrard)
A big team needs a big-time player, a marquee player. With Suarez, Liverpool have that. Gerrard is no longer capable of performing at that level, but his influence might be the slight edge needed in order to convince Suarez about feeling happier as he stays for another season with Liverpool, hoping this one changes his mind, and the club’s fortunes.