THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

21 January ~ Pepe Reina may have to fear for his place at Liverpool. The club are in talks to sign Ajax and Uruguay striker Luis Suárez, most infamous for his deliberate handball on the goal-line during his country's World Cup quarter-final that ultimately eliminated Ghana. Liverpool, admittedly, desire Suárez's skills at the other end of the pitch where he has scored 91 goals in 127 appearances in the Dutch league for Groningen and then Ajax.

However, these skills may be in doubt should he arrive in the Premier League, regardless of the evidence of last summer's World Cup where he netted three goals before Uruguay lost in the semi-finals where they visibly missed the suspended Suárez. Most strikers from Holland, regardless of their nationality, are not highly thought of these days.

Not too long ago, Manchester United brought Ruud van Nistelrooy over from PSV Eindhoven, on the back of 62 goals in 67 Eredivisie games for his former club. At a cost of £19 million, Van Nistelrooy paid back every penny with five seasons of success, becoming the club's all-time top goalscorer in European competitions in the process. But gone are the days of Van Nistelrooy and Dennis Bergkamp.

Chelsea searched for the next Van Nistelrooy and found Mateja Kezman, scorer of 105 goals in 123 games while with PSV. After one disappointing season Chelsea offloaded the Serbian striker, whose four league goals came at a cost of £1.25m each.

Middlesbrough's Afonso Alves underachieved even more spectacularly when becoming the club's £12m record signing. He scored seven goals in one match for AZ Alkmaar once, and was runner-up for the European Golden Boot in 2007. His fate in England? Four goals in 31 games as Boro were relegated. Alves now plays in Qatar where presumably he scores hatfuls of goals again.

Liverpool's Ryan Babel must fall into this category too. He was somewhat of a wonderkid when he was bought for £11.5m from Ajax as a 20-year-old but has failed to adjust to life at Anfield. He is now more famous for his ability on Twitter and it was reported that Hoffenheim had a bid accepted for the player on Tuesday. Suárez is currently on a nine-match barren spell since he last scored, so if that's the case he may be more use to Liverpool helping out Reina between the posts. James Dielhenn

Comments (7)
Comment by Banton 2011-01-21 15:17:08

This is just lazy journalism. Anyone who understands anything about football knows that merely looking at statistics to judge a player's quality is stupid.

I could have told you beforehand that Alves, who contrary to your writing never played for AZ, was nothing special. He once scored seven goals in one game against an abysmal Heracles having an off-day, but never did anyting meaningful when faced with stronger opposition like Ajax or PSV.

Babel was also never considered a wonderkid, but was talented. The price Liverpool paid for him was very high, everyone in Amsterdam knew. You can thank Benitez for halting any further progress.

As for Suarez, if we're going to focus on statistics anyway, apart from banging in lots of goals against all types of opposition, he has also provided plenty of assists (16 in 2010). However, these same statistics will not tell you that his recent nine-game goalscoring drought was accompanied by no less than 13 shots hitting the woodwork.

Ajax are in no need to sell. If Liverpool want him, they'll have to pay up. According to De Boer: "We have no intention of selling Suarez. We are only willing to think about it if a so-called 'super-top-club' makes an absurd offer for him." It's questionable whether Liverpool will meet either of those requirements.

Comment by hrvyklly 2011-01-21 15:40:46

Very lazy. Even if you know nothing about Dutch football, have you not seen Suárez play for Uruguay? (By the way, Alves played for Heerenveen, not AZ.)

Comment by tommykolkman 2011-01-21 20:07:02

So what exactly is your point? That the Eredivisie is kind of shit nowadays? In Holland, we are aware of that (evidence being the 10-0 victory of PSV over Feyenoord as well).

Apart from that, Ryan Babel is a winger, not a striker (since you've tried to compare him to van Nistelrooij, Kezman and Alves), and, what we call him in Amsterdam, a one-trick-pony. (Coming in from the left and go for goal - always.) Liverpool got it wrong themselves, as they want to use him in a 4-4-2 whereas his style of playing suits best in 4-3-3. So, I don't think he underachieved, he's just being used the wrong way.

For Suarez, I think it will be different as he's more versatile. If Liverpool is able to show him that his bad manners won't work in the PL (diving, asking for cards, and of course... biting your opponent) he can actually be a very gifted footballer, easily up to PL standards. Just for evidence - check this one:

Comment by G.Man 2011-01-21 21:38:37

Surely the writer's point is not to expect great things from players based on statistics in the Eeredivisie, basically making exactly the point Banton argues in his ill-tempered opening paragraph (and the point which tommykolkman seems to have missed). Lazy reading!

Comment by Analogue Bubblebath II 2011-01-21 23:11:13

"his recent nine-game goalscoring drought was accompanied by no less than 13 shots hitting the woodwork."

In fairness, hitting the post all the time isn't much use to anyone, is it?

Comment by Analogue Bubblebath II 2011-01-21 23:12:33

Anyway, Suarez is a wanker who needs his ears boxed.

Comment by BlackheathDub 2011-01-23 07:27:35

Suarez to be the next LFC Diouf, then, Analogue Bubblebath II?

Related articles

Graeme Souness – Football: my life, my passion
by Graeme SounessHeadline, £9.99Reviewed by Peter BrooksbankFrom WSC 378, September 2018Buy the book To football supporters of a certain...
Klopp: Bring the noise by Raphael Honigstein
Yellow Jersey Press, £12.99Reviewed by Huw RichardsFrom WSC 375, April 2018Buy the book Some managers seem destined for certain clubs....