Liverpool may have come out of the international break unscathed on the pitch, but for a club that can't seem to manage a week without embracing some flavour of drama or of having it heaped upon them, heading back into league action on a positive note and being able to focus on the football was never going to be a legitimate option. And so it was that as the final games wound down on Wednesday evening, speculation from journalists at the Daily Post with a track record for the dealings of Manchester City broke: City and Roberto Mancini were interested in making a £40M bid for Luis Suarez in January.
Of course, Manchester City being interested in Suarez as a replacement for the inconsistent and eternally troubled Mario Balotelli is hardly the same as a deal being likely. It's also hardly a shock to learn that one of the best—and quite certainly the richest—clubs in the league would be interested in acquiring the best striker on current form and a legitimate early candidate for player of the year honours. Manager Brendan Rodgers, though, was at pains to make it clear Suarez wasn't going anywhere at his Thursday morning press conference.
"He's certainly not someone we want to sell or move on," said Rodgers. "He has been a brilliant player to work with and we want to add to our squad—not take people out of it, especially a world-class player. We'll continue to work and stay focused on what we're trying to achieve. Luis has already shown in the summer his commitment to the club. He signed a new deal and you've seen up until this point, he's in a great moment in his footballing life here at Liverpool. He's scoring goals and working well."
Certainly from Liverpool's point of view it's hard to imagine a situation where selling the club's best player and only legitimate goal threat makes any sense, at least if the owners have a shred of ambition to climb back into the Champions League over the next few seasons. It's even more difficult to imagine a way in which they could spin such a sale that would keep the majority of the club's support on their side, especially following a shaky end to the summer transfer window that has left many wondering whether Fenway Sports Group are better at talk and spin than they are at actually managing the club.
Even if City were to tack an extra ten million pounds onto the fee it would represent a massive gamble, as Suarez' true market value in the current environment likely is somewhere north of £40M. With that much cash in hand and having lost their only scoring threat, prices to replace Suarez with even less talented players—and almost any player the club could reasonably expect to lure would be less talented than Suarez—would quickly become exorbitant, and the club either paying over the odds for a lesser replacement or standing firm and ending the season without a proper replacement would be a near certainty.
And so, as was the case over the summer when talk of selling Daniel Agger or Martin Skrtel to Manchester City bubbled to the surface, one ends up facing a similar situation—a situation where the uncertainty amongst fans and lost reputation brought by selling the club's best players, the inherent gamble that is any new signing no matter price or track record, and the inflated fees one faces when clubs know you have cash in hand make Suarez quite completely unsellable if one credits the club with an ounce of collective sanity.
Some will break out charts and chequebooks in an attempt to explain why at X pounds or dollars or Euros selling a player—any player—makes sense. It's what happened with Skrtel and Agger, and it's inevitably what will happen now that the possibility of Suarez leaving this January to another English club has been floated. And for a club in a position of strength—for a side like Manchester United selling a player like Christiano Ronaldo, perhaps—it might even be a justifiable outlook. But it isn't an outlook that allows one to take into account the less easily measurable factors of a club struggling to scratch and claw its way back into the European elite.
There's always the chance of course that no matter the club or Brendan Rodgers' desires, Suarez himself could push for a move—after all, Fernando Torres spent years proclaiming his love for Liverpool before bolting to Chelsea for big money two Januarys back. Suarez' situation in England, though, it's fair to say is a touch different than Torres', and it's hard to imagine him making a move to Manchester given that most of his more negative experiences in the league to date have been intertwined with that city and their premier club. One can also look to the manner in which Suarez left Ajax and the esteem he's still held in by that club's supporters for further reason to think a Manchester move would be unlikely.
Many Liverpool fans have feared that Suarez would sooner or later—and perhaps sooner than later—look to leave Liverpool due to some combination of a lack of ambition on the club's part and his continuing vilification in much of the country. And there may still be reason to fear that that day will come at some point in the not too distant future. However, if or when it does, it's hard to imagine Suarez remaining in England—and not because of any club loyalties Liverpool fans might like to believe he possess.
With Rodgers' unequivocal statements on Suarez and common sense reasons why selling the club's best player from a position of weakness would almost certainly end badly, not to mention Suarez' personal reasons for not moving elsewhere in England—and in particular to the city of Manchester—this seems an issue that can be quickly put to bed. It almost certainly won't be, of course, though that a handful of bottom-feeding media outlets and rumour mongering websites will continue to talk about it as a thing that might actually happen while some continue to get caught up in that talk doesn't change that Suarez to Manchester City isn't now and never was anything more than an impossible daydream conjured by Roberto Mancini.
Or, in the words of Brendan Rodgers: "There will be no bidding war. He is staying here."