As Liverpool's first team squad trained in the gloriously monikered Gelora Bung Karno National Stadium in Jakarta, the Luis Suarez transfer stories spun, sparked and fizzed like a demented Catherine wheel. Arsenal may table another derisory bid. Real Madrid may deign to enter the discussion once more, if they can move-on Gonzalo Higuain. Steve Bruce's Hull are readying a massive bid. One of those may not be true. Or all of them. And that is the point dear readers. Nobody knows anything.
These wranglings over superstar footballers follow paths as predictable as the trite soap-operas that people inexplicably love so much. The are familiar and so everybody has an opinion, everybody has a better strategy than the club.The player makes noises about needing a new challenge. The club remains silent. The links begin, often fed by trolling agents. The club express disappointment or anger. The player goes quiet for a time and the club reaches out, as Ian Ayre did on Monday.
The latest vignette in this au courant drama is the declaration of intent and authority from the manager. Cue Brendan Rodgers' insistence to the assembled press that it would take something "drastic" to result in Suarez's absence from Anfield next season. The Liverpool manager, playing a PR blinder, with some delightfully cheesy flag-waving and jersey-holding, told the world that the Uruguayan striker was part of his plans for the season to come but he managed the nifty politician's trick of sounding unequivocal whilst leaving just enough ambiguity in his language to ensure that nobody can relax.
Suarez is scheduled to join his colleagues in Melbourne next week and a trim-looking Rodgers was adamant that he wants to see the current Liverpool number seven remain in red and help the team challenge for Champions League football in 2014. His words had wonderful Brendan-like positivity and ebullience and yet there was a tough edge to them that seems to be characteristic of the man himself.
"Luis Suarez is a wonderful player and he is still very much a Liverpool player," avowed the forty year old. "No matter who the player is, nobody is bigger than Liverpool football Club. Luis is a very important member of this squad and I am looking forward to working with him again after he had such a fantastic season. There has been lots of speculation about Luis moving to another club but, as I said, he is still very much a Liverpool player. We had an offer that was nowhere near what we value him at. He's one of the top strikers in the world."
Whilst this is the type of thing one would expect, -- it is a soap-opera after all -- the words of the manager are somehow comforting. It's not that Brendan Rodgers reassures us that Suarez will stay but more that he is at pains to point out that the striker is merely a cog in the machine -- no matter how vital, it can be replaced. The machine is the vital thing. Rodgers, correctly, always brings the focus back to Liverpool Football Club.
"Of course he [Suarez] wants to work and play at the top level, but unless something drastic happens, he will be staying here," claimed the Northern Irishman. He's got three years left on his contract. we are looking forward to him helping us to get into the Champions League spots. That's a competition we are fighting to get into. The great name and history of Liverpool dictates it should be in that competition. It's difficult these days with the finance some clubs have but I believe we will put up a great fight this season. Let's hope we can get back to where we belong."
Suarez or not, the season ahead will feature the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge, Iago Aspas, Raheem Sterling, Fabio Borini and Jordon Ibe -- who did this in training yesterday -- as attacking threats for Liverpool. Even if the Uruguayan arm-gnasher does leave, it will mean there will be still more talent added to that array. Now perhaps your correspondent may need to have a little sit down in a darkened room, but when one thinks of all that potential and ability, it's enough to induce light-headedness. The strangest feeling is washing over me, overpowering all the whining, and cynical sniping. If I didn't know better, I'd say it was optimism.