Some players are too good to replace and even now, six weeks into the season, I do not see how Liverpool can make up for the loss of Luis Suarez. Life has been difficult for Liverpool since the summer, since Steven Gerrard’s cruel mistake against Chelsea – when have you ever seen him slip like that? – and since Suarez left for Barcelona. It has given them a bit of a jolt but the strikers, especially Mario Balotelli, have to step up and try to replace what Suarez gave them.
Suarez was an inspirational presence at Liverpool, especially for Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling. Last season, Sturridge was copying Suarez. He knew he had to work harder and fight harder, and move the ball quicker. They were playing so well together, they were like an unstoppable train.
I know just how hard it can be when a player like Suarez leaves. When I arrived at Barcelona in 1984, Diego Maradona left for Napoli. Then I was Tottenham manager when Paul Gascoigne left for Lazio in 1992. And I see a lot of similarities between Maradona, Gazza and Suarez, and the holes they leave behind.
For a start, they were loved by all the other players. It is not like they are just goalscorers who turn it on occasionally. People loved Maradona at Barcelona, he was never a problem. Everyone at Spurs loved Gazza, he had his moments but he was never a problem. And you can see what an inspiration Suarez was at Liverpool.
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There are very few players who work hard, inspire their team-mates and stay on top of their own game, but these guys do. Gazza and Maradona were always prepared to do their own work, to work hard for their team. And that is why, like Suarez, they are the proper deal.
They combine team play with individual brilliance. And that is what makes the difference. So they deserve all the glory for their endeavour and their hard work. I just hope that Suarez has learned his lesson from this summer.
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