With the season winding down and the summer transfer window looming, there are a handful or rumours surrounding Liverpool that just won't go away. From speculation about interest in Swansea defender Ashley Williams to Ajax starlet Christian Eriksen, there are already a few names one cannot seem to avoid when it comes to the club and potential signings.
Another rumour that just seems unwilling to go away, though, involves a potential outgoing. It involves star striker Luis Suarez. Nobody's quite sure where exactly he might be headed if indeed he were to head anywhere, but every back page and rumour monger to be found is certain he's going somewhere. Or at least could be going somewhere.
"To play at the highest level in the Premier League and European soccer you need players like Luis and Steven Gerrard on your team," managing director Ian Ayre told Sports Illustrated when pressed on the subject in a recent interview, leading to yet another statement of intent regarding the club's determination to hold onto Suarez. "[So] the last thing in our mind is selling Luis Suarez. He's not for sale. It's not something we're interested in."
Most Liverpool fans continue to have a lingering concern or seven when it comes to Suarez' future at the club, though on the back of previous statements by the club and player most have grown increasingly to believe Suarez will remain for at least one more season regardless of the club's European status. For them, the worry is less about the next few months than about what happens if Liverpool remain out of the Champions League come next summer.
Suarez may be willing to spend one more year with Liverpool in the hopes the club can come to match his own ambition and talent by the end of it, but few would begrudge him a move to a side outside of England capable of challenging for silverware at that point if they didn't. And to that end, Ayre is insistent that this summer will see further transfer successes following in the footsteps of the club's January signings.
"I remember when [Fenway Sports Group] bought the team," he added. "John [Henry] made a comment in the media: We don't want to just build a team to win but to keep winning. To do that you have to have a number of world-class players on your team [so] we were very pleased with the most recent window in January with Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge. It's a combination of skills and people and processes that bring us to what we're trying to achieve.
"I think the fundamental shift particularly around player acquisitions and disposals was that we took the view that it needs to be more of a science. Your biggest expenditure line can't be the whim of any individual. That doesn't mean somebody else is picking the team for Brendan. But Brendan needs to set out with his team of people which positions we want to fill and what the key targets would be for that."
It may not be the director of football structure FSG were rumoured to want when they began the search for a manager that ended with Rodgers, but speaks to a more communal process than it has at times seemed with the manager so far targeting mostly players he has had past relationships with. It's also an approach that remains committed to statistical analysis even as talk of Moneyball has faded into the background following the dismissal of Damien Comolli last year.
"It's a combination of old-school scouting and watching players—and that's Brendan, his assistants, our scouts—with statistical analysis of players across Europe and the rest of the world," concluded Ayre. "By bringing those two processes together, you get a much more educated view of who you should and shouldn't be buying. And perhaps as fundamentally, how much you should be paying and the structure to those contracts.
"I think we've had relatively good success since we deployed that methodology. We're getting better all the time. Just as [we] think our football is getting better, our transfer activity is getting better."
If the summer's transfer dealings can continue the success of January's—and with the club keeping hold of Suarez for another year along the way—it's hard to imagine most fans won't be in complete agreement with the managing director on at least that front.