How can Liverpool replace Suarez?
"How will Liverpool cope without Luis Suarez?" came a question from a packed news conference in the past month, just after the Reds had beaten Olympiakos 1-0 in a preseason friendly in Chicago.
"What do I see when I look at the team?" Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers asked in response. "I see players who scored 70 goals last season. It's fairly simple. Luis Suarez is not a Liverpool player anymore, so we don't need to talk about him. When we didn't have Luis, we scored goals. That won't be an issue."
If Rodgers is to be believed, then the best way for Liverpool to move on now that their best player has departed is to embrace the team ethic. The challenge for that team is replacing the attributes Suarez brought to the pitch in the hugely successful 2013-14 campaign. Without a marquee signing to fill the Uruguayan's boots immediately, Liverpool will look throughout their squad to fill the void this season.
Goal scoring: Daniel Sturridge
Liverpool scored 101 goals in the league the past season. Suarez got 31 of them; Sturridge picked up 21 from 99 shots. Already seen as one of the top goal scorers in the country, Sturridge needs to blossom from out of the shadow of the Uruguayan this season. The striker will likely be given the chance to lead the line and has the added bonus of a backup player the likes of Rickie Lambert to help him out. Although he wears No. 15, England and Liverpool will hope this is the season Sturridge announces himself as a world-class No. 9.
Quote unquote: "We created history with our goals and became the most successful Liverpool partnership in one season. But in terms of next season for the goals, I'll step up myself, and everyone has to. It's everyone's job to do that -- the new boys who have come in as well as the players who have been there all season. We will move forward as a team." -- Daniel Sturridge
Versatility: Raheem Sterling
Keen to make his name in the No. 10 role this season, after impressing there in spells in the latest campaign, Sterling is Liverpool's best bet to fill in the gaps across all the attacking lines. His pace, trickery and coolness in front of goal ensure the 19-year-old can slot in with ease, and he makes a terrific impact substitute as well. Having watched Suarez progress in the same way during his time in England, the national team staff will hope Sterling matures into one of the most versatile forwards in the game.
Quote unquote: "I've got my own personal plans and goals for this season -- the main one being to improve my goals-per-game ratio. I just need to get a bit more freedom to play my own game because that's what I need now to take my game to the next level. ... I know I've got to mix my game up, not always trying to take the man on, but try to play with one or two touches and get in behind defenders. I think that would make me more of a handful, and I am really looking forward to the new challenge." -- Raheem Sterling
Creativity: Philippe Coutinho
With his slight frame and quick feet, Coutinho's efforts will be focused on opening the locks on opposition defences like Suarez used to do. His vision, passing and mental capabilities are high for one so young, but the Brazilian will have to show he is up to the task as he fights for a place in the first XI. Suarez managed 13 assists in all competitions this past season, so Coutinho will have to improve on the eight he managed.
Quote unquote: "He is never going to be prolific like Luis or other strikers. He is more like a [Luka] Modric type -- he is the brain behind the team and gets them moving and playing. But you don't have to score goals to be an exciting player, and he has shown that in the season and a half he has been with us. At 22 years of age, he has got a lot of improvement to make. The longer he is with us and understanding our way of working, that learning will continue." -- Brendan Rodgers
Pace: Lazar Markovic
For a 20-year-old, there is a lot of pressure on Markovic in his first season in England. Although not a direct replacement for Suarez (who could be?), the former Benfica forward's technical skills stand out, as does his ability to run with the ball at speed. When Suarez was at full burst, few could stop him; the 20 million-pound Serbian will be expected to run at his marker and create chances for his teammates.
Quote unquote: "You look at young Markovic and Raheem, the pace of Daniel. We have great variety in our attack, full of pace and trickery. We have got people, like Markovic, who can beat defenders. I hope it will be another standout season for quality and entertainment." -- Brendan Rodgers
Desire: Adam Lallana
A desire to impress at a new club is always apparent, but Lallana has proved that his passion on the pitch matches his skill and vision. A key component of the pressing game at Southampton, he will get up and down the pitch, tracking back when required. However, in filling the void of Suarez, the midfielder will be expected to never rest on his laurels. Two more opposite backgrounds you could not find, but the 25 million-pound arrival will be motivated to succeed in his new surroundings.
Quote unquote: "What is apparent about Adam is that his character is on a par with his talent. He is an exceptional young man and someone who has a love for the game -- and, most importantly, a desire to progress and improve. Adam is motivated by being the best he can be and being part of something special. We believe he fits right in with what we are trying to do at Liverpool." -- Brendan Rodgers
Star quality: Steven Gerrard
Having given up international football after the World Cup, Gerrard will solely focus on his life's dream of claiming the Premier League trophy. Suarez was a wonderful player, one who lit up the league, but Gerrard is a hero on Merseyside and one of the greatest players to have graced the English game. The Reds' captain will do everything in his power to ensure Suarez's presence on the pitch isn't missed; for pure star quality in that area of the country, there are few who can even come close.
Quote unquote: "His [Suarez's] wife is from Barcelona, and I don't think you can begrudge a player like that, who has worked so hard for his dream. You can't go against him when he says he is leaving for Barcelona. His dream from the first day he came was to play for Real Madrid or Barcelona ... my big dream was to play for Liverpool, and the foreign players' big dream is to play for Real Madrid or Barcelona -- that's a fact." -- Steven Gerrard