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Where Liverpool Stand Without Luis Suarez

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Replacing one of the top three players in the world isn't going to happen this summer, but even with the loss of Suarez, Liverpool are in a good spot ahead of the new season.

Michael Regan

Let's immediately dismiss the notion that Liverpool have somehow become better today by selling Luis Suarez to Barcelona. Less headaches, certainly, and, at least for the time being, less cognitive dissonance. But when it comes to quality, Liverpool have gotten worse today, in the way that every team in every sport becomes worse by having their best player leave. Luis Suarez did absurd things for a living. Some of those things got him in very serious trouble, and some of those things--very many, in fact--helped Liverpool tremendously.

So no, Liverpool aren't better off without Suarez when it comes to quality or how he factors into the mind-numbing Power Rankings posts that will usher in a new season across the internet. His departure might, however, provide the impetus for Liverpool to become better as a squad, and for Brendan Rodgers to bring in players to solidify Liverpool's current standing as one of the top teams in the Premier League.

Because despite how many points Arsenal are going to win the league by with Alexis and United are really back this time with Louis van Gaal because Tim Krul penalty shootout and lookout Spurs' signings from last summer are going to be good now, Liverpool finished second in the most recent Premier League season, played some wonderful football, and are poised to continue to do so. Even without Luis Suarez.

In the current squad (which includes the additions Trev outlined earlier in the day), there's now a sense of quality beyond the starting eleven. Where previously there were no positive additions available to influence a match, there's now plenty of options available. Rickie Lambert won't start regularly but will be expected to contribute, each of Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho, and Raheem Sterling will find themselves coming off the bench at times, and if Fabio Borini and Suso stick, Rodgers will have quality at his disposal that far surpasses the likes of Iago Aspas or Victor Moses.

This rushes past a starting eleven that will include at least two from Lallana, Coutinho, and Sterling on a given matchday, Daniel Sturridge leading the attack centrally in a role he's been working for since his professional career started, and midfield options from Jordan Henderson, Steven Gerrard, Joe Allen, Emre Can, and, if he remains, Lucas. The back line still needs strengthening, but Mamadou Sakho should emerge as the leader after a dominant World Cup campaign, and Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, and Kolo Toure will once again have to fight for their respective places. The same goes for Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique; in the current squad, the only fullback who starts on merit is Jon Flanagan, who wasn't even on the radar at this time last year.

All told it's probably not quite enough to reach the heights of last season, but what happens from here will go a great way in determining whether or not Liverpool are able to maintain their progress. Lazar Markovic joins shortly and Divock Origi should be settled, adding to the threat going forward now and in the not-so-distant future, and renewed interest in Alberto Moreno inspires hope at the back. Dejan Lovren also looks likely, and even though the price-tag rubs some the wrong way, he would add further leadership in defense. Links for Wilfried Bony persist, and a host of other names have emerged in the past few weeks as well.

And that's all pre-Suarez, pre-£75M. The work likely began long ago to compensate, yes, but now Liverpool's reality is one in which they're equipped to build. Not in a Spurs-style spending spree, with parts bought negligent of how they'll affect the whole. To pretend that's the case now is willful ignorance. Liverpool have a plan and manager they're committed to, and business will be done accordingly. Last summer Liverpool brought in eight new players. Spurs brought in seven. Last season Liverpool finished second. The number of players bought is irrelevant.

The Liverpool career of Luis Suarez has come to an end. That doesn't mean the club's progress follows suit.