Liverpool can cope without Suarez
LIVERPOOL v SOUTHAMPTON
(Tonight, 8.30pm, SingTel mio TV Ch 102 & StarHub TV Ch 227)
From Bony to Remy to Cavani, Falcao, Reus and Lavezzi, with other names thrown into the mix for good measure, and back to Bony.
For Liverpool supporters, the £75-million ($156m) question has been about who's going to replace Luis Suarez and his 31 goals last season?
And which transfer rumour to believe?
The only truth we know for certain is Queens Park Rangers' Loic Remy going as far as a medical before Liverpool called off the deal.
Such a waste, because the pacey and tricky attacker would have suited Liverpool's playing style at a relatively cheap £8.5 million.
But, in truth, neither he nor any of the above would have adequately replaced Suarez.
The Uruguayan is more than just a goal scorer, he creates chances through his skill, vision and constant hustling of opponents.
Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus, with his speed and versatility, would have been my choice.
But a report from Spain on Friday suggested that he was bound for Atletico Madrid for £22m. In a matter, the Spanish champions denied any interest in him. That's the rumour mill for you.
Even if Reus is available, would he want to go to Liverpool?
Just look at the players who snubbed Liverpool last season - Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Willian, Mohamed Salah, Gylfi Sigurdsson. And, more recently, Alexis Sanchez opted for Arsenal and the bright lights of London.
The fans may just have to accept that as a footballing and lifestyle destination, Liverpool is seldom first choice among the top players.
Reds manager Brendan Rodgers' claim that the club can attract top talent must be taken with a pinch of salt.
Returning to the Champions League has added some drawing power, but which of the eight signings so far can be considered world-class?
That said, they are still potentially excellent buys, even if Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren seem over-priced.
Most are ready for first-team action while Divock Origi, who's back with Lille on loan, looks like a star of the future.
Since the young Belgian striker is not ready to don Liverpool red, this brings us back to the question of Suarez's replacement.
Though star names like Radamel Falcao, Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Samuel Eto'o have been bandied about, they are into their late 20s or older and come with hefty price tags and/or wage demands.
Even if they were willing to join Liverpool, would the owners, with their preference for young players with resale value, sanction a deal?
Frankly, I don't think Liverpool need any of them.
Against Borussia Dortmund last Sunday, the attacking trio of Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho showed that they can strike terror into any team.
Yes, it was a friendly and Dortmund were missing some big names, but Liverpool's movement and passing were outstanding, with Coutinho magnificent in the playmaker's role.
As an attacking trinity, they can compensate for the loss of Suarez. Will they make up for his 31 goals?
Probably not, but there's no need to score 100-plus goals to win trophies or, perhaps more reaistically, make the top four. It's more important not to drop points against opponents through shoddy defending, as Liverpool did all too often last season.
The additions of centre back Lovren, right back Javier Manquillo and left back Alberto Moreno will shore up the defence while Emre Can will provide defensive cover in midfield.
Lovren and Manquillo, who both impressed against Dortmund, could keep their places against Southampton tonight. Moreno misses out because of his transfer delay.
If Jordan Henderson retains his place on the right in a 4-2-3-1 formation, it looks like a toss-up between Can and Joe Allen to partner Steven Gerrard in central midfield, depending on how adventurous Rodgers feels.
Once Lallana and Lazar Markovic are fit, they can play on the flanks, allowing Henderson to return to central midfield where he is most effective.
Suarez may be gone, but Liverpool look a stronger unit overall with the new boys providing options and cover except for one vital position.
What Liverpool need is a capable cover for Sturridge who, even if he enjoys an injury-free season, cannot be expected to play every match.
Rickie Lambert, another new signing, and Fabio Borini, who may yet leave for Sunderland, are good options coming off the bench, but they are not first-11 quality.
So who then?
The rumour mill has Liverpool ready to make a bigger bid for Wilfried Bony, who had a wonderful first season with Swansea, scoring 25 goals, 16 of them in the league, but the Ivorian strikes me as more Lambert than Sturridge.
Having him in the side may mean Liverpool having to adapt to a different style of play.
Giuseppe Rossi, who recently entered the picture, is more of a like-for-like cover for Sturridge, but he's injury-prone and, more importantly, his agent denies any Liverpool interest.
Expect more rumours and more names before the transfer window closes in two weeks, by which time Rodgers will hopefully have got his wish of two more additions, preferably a striking cover for Sturridge and a better goalkeeper than Brad Jones to challenge Simon Mignolet.
Then, Liverpool might truly be ready to battle for silverware on four fronts.