Only at Liverpool could a day where a fee for Luis Suarez is agreed first be dominated by news of Fernando Torres' possible exit. The last remnant of the Hicks and Gillett era is the perpetual expectation that only bad things are going to happen. It's going to take more than a few months where we've seen the return of the King and slightly improved results to wash away the preeminent feeling of paranoia.
Overnight news that Chelsea bid somewhere between £35-60m for Fernando Torres raised alarms, but was quickly refuted by the club and generally assumed to be a desperation throw of the dice. However, reports this morning that Torres wanted Liverpool to negotiate sent the Internet into an absolute frenzy. Thankfully, that's hit the back burner in the last hour. As the highly-respected Roy Hodgson said a few months back, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I doubt this story's dead by any means, but January should be a non-starter because of the club's situation. As with Charlie Adam and Blackpool, there's no fee that'd replace the player's value at the moment. My sneaking suspicion is to get ready for another summer filled with rumor and innuendo much like the last.
Some have cheekily suggested that the rumors from Torres' camp were delivered to push FSG into making today's signing, after transfer talk had ebbed and flowed for more than a week. If that's the case, it's a frightening sign of player power. I'm not so convinced the two are linked, but still love a good conspiracy now and then.
Whether the fee for Suarez is €25m – as reported by De Telegraaf – or Suarez and Liverpool reach the incentives to push it up to €26.5m, it's still the club's record signing. It's not the €30m that Ajax initially wanted, but a substantial sum nonetheless. It's also a statement of intent from the new owners: they haven't given up on this season and will open the purse-strings when needed. Suarez certainly isn't Carlton Cole or Charles N'Zogbia. That FSG took their sweet time over firing Hodgson and completing this deal demonstrates the group's deliberation. Deliberation isn't what the fans want and can backfire, but it's often a smart way to do business.
A 24-year-old support striker with 110 goals in 154 appearances at Ajax (49 goals in all competitions last season), Suarez will probably play alongside Torres, replacing Maxi or Kuyt, in Liverpool's current 4-3-3 variant. Of course, that a goal-scoring record in the Eredivisie doesn't always translate to the Premier League (yes, I'm aware Kuyt scored 83 in 122 games for Feyenoord) will be incessantly mentioned.
Forlan rightfully took the plaudits for Uruguay's World Cup performance, but Suarez's contribution can't be understated, and not just for his genius handball. Uruguay's formation varied, but it was most often a 4-3-1-2 with Suarez and Cavani up front and Forlan in the hole. Liverpool Offside have the required YouTube clips; he's good with the ball at his feet and is quick – two attributes currently lacking in the squad – but his versatility is the attribute I'm most excited about. Unfortunately, I wrote similar about Ryan Babel. As with all signings, they must be given time to settle – the failure to do so with Aquilani is a very recent warning.
Despite having last rites performed thanks to Hicks and Gillett, despite a season-long struggle that's seen Liverpool's recent rise to seventh cause for celebration, this deal is a sign that Liverpool can still attract big-name players. Suarez has the potential to improve Liverpool immensely. And hopefully, it'll help convince current players that Liverpool will be back where they belong sooner rather than later.