El Pistolero’s legacy at Barcelona will be remembered for several years to come. While Barcelona have had the privilege to host some impeccable strikers over the years, Suárez certainly makes the legendary list of forwards to play for the distinguished blaugrana badge. However, as heart-wrenching as this may sound, no legend lives forever and the future of Luis Suárez has been a subject of great concern. Will his ageing legs be able to cope next season?
Luis Suárez has had a decent campaign so far. Despite being accused of having a rusty first touch or being clumsy in build-ups, he seemed far more refined than his last term. The fact that Griezmann’s signing allowed him to be a bit more active on the field could be a reason considering he wouldn’t have to worry about not having a suitable replacement. Though, pushing the boundaries clearly led to a serious injury, which the Uruguayan had been avoiding for an unsettling amount of time. Now that he’s gone that extra limit, it’s fair to assume that these setbacks will be quite recurring. Also, what makes the general audience hesitant to have him next season is the fact that he has completely transformed himself into a poacher. Very rarely does he drop deep or show the willingness to press the opposition, which is by no means reminiscent to the Suárez fans saw at the beginning of his tenure at Barça.
All that being said, Luis’ worth is still undeniable. He’s Messi’s reference point, his focal point and, no matter how much he may have degraded in that regard, not many players in the squad know how to execute that role. Griezmann was given a shot, but hasn’t quite proven to be exemplary in such a position. This current team is obviously structured around Leo and is tasked to work in the Messi ecosystem, so it’s of utmost importance to have someone who fulfils that role with maximum efficiency.
Suárez is Messi’s best partner on and off the pitch | Photo by Lluis Gene / AFP via Getty Images
The 33-year-old has become a liability in away games and is clearly not ideal for the club in the long-term anymore. Therefore, seeing him leave this summer is certainly on the cards. Nevertheless, there are two options, which the club must start considering.
The club could play Messi as false 9 and Luis simply departs, accepting it is time to move on. Stationing Leo in such a position in these few last stages of his career could prove to be instrumental since not only does this allow the Argentine to be closer to the opposition box, but also doesn’t require him to unnecessarily drop deep to solve Barcelona’s creativity crisis. However, for that, Barcelona would desperately require efficient classic wingers who don’t instinctively move in the centre of the park, but rather stretch defences with their width and pace. Since the former Liverpool man would have less of a chance getting playtime and wouldn’t have to fulfill the function of acting as Messi’s reference point, his significance as a player would reduce exponentially.
The second option, and what at the moment seems more likely, is to sign a replacement for Suárez. The club apparently has set its eyes on Lautaro Martínez, who seems to share a similar play style to his South American counterpart. Lautaro could be Messi’s upgraded focal point as he’d have fresher legs and wouldn’t be a hassle during build-ups. With the arrival of a brand new striker, selling Suárez might not be ideal, though. Considering the Uruguayan can still be a source of guidance, retaining him might be essential. Anyone who arrives at Barça requires time to adapt, thus Luis would have some degree of importance until his successor is able to fully grasp his intricate role.
In both scenarios, one thing is ensured: Suárez must demote himself from the role of a starter. The next campaign will be crucial for Setién’s side and if the club intend to retain Suárez as a starter, Barcelona would be losing out heavily. Whilst there is no denying that Luis is a world-class striker capable of providing fans with outstanding moments, it is important to move on and think ahead.
Why Erling Braut Håland should be Barcelona’s future number 9
While he would be an unconventional player at the club, why should Barcelona target Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Braut Håland after the departure of Luis Suárez?
A 19-year-old Erling Braut Håland took the footballing world by storm last year when he scored a hat-trick of goals on his Champions League debut and then went on to become only the second teenager to score in each of his first three appearances in the competition.
In the winter transfer window, Håland moved from Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg to German side Borussia Dortmund in hopes of both improving his game and leading Lucien Favre’s side to the Bundesliga title. The Norwegian wonderkid ended the Bundesliga season with 13 goals and 3 assists in 15 games, and Dortmund finished second on the table.
Håland’s 44-goal season put him on the radar of all the top clubs in the world, and while the striker is at the top of his game at Dortmund, his departure to a top European club in the future is inevitable at some point. Following club legend Luis Suárez‘s departure from Barcelona, the Catalan club is surely looking for El Pistolero‘s heir. With Barcelona looking for a top striker for the future, and the Norwegian machine looking at a European giant to move to, Håland might just be the name that reads on Barcelona’s number 9 shirt.
The transfer market is unpredictable, and Håland’s agent being notorious superagent – and supervillain – Mino Raiola, makes things even more complicated. Instead of looking at if Barcelona will seek Håland’s services, this article will look at why Barcelona should seek Håland’s services.
To begin with, let’s talk about Håland’s statistics. In the 2019/20 season, he scored 44 and assisted 10 goals. 10 of the goals were in the Champions League. He scored more goals than expected with his G90, 1.10, being higher than his xG90, 0.75. It has been established that Håland is a goalscoring machine. The Norwegian’s physique is absolutely astounding. At 6 feet 4 inches (1.94 metres), Håland provides quite the aerial threat, something the blaugrana club severely lacks.
In spite of his towering height, Håland is incredibly fast; he reached a top speed of 36 km/h and was 0.3 seconds off from breaking the world record for a 60-metre sprint. Football has evolved in recent years, with training facilities improving and more money being invested in fitness training, players have become more athletic. A striker who will face off against athletic defenders definitely needs to be a physical demon.
When at RB Salzburg, Barcelona rejected to sign Erling Braut Håland because he did not have the suited profile | Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos via Getty Images
Does Håland have the technical ability of a prime Luis Suárez or of a Samuel Eto’o? No. Would he be heavily involved in the build-up play like some of Barcelona’s preceding number 9s? No. If Håland was to join, he would be the most uncreative player in the squad, and believe it or not, that is exactly what Barcelona needs right now.
The recurring humiliations in the Champions League knockout stages have had one thing in common – apart from the poor defence –: the lack of a runner. Every elite team in Europe has elite runners: PSG have Kylian Mbappé, Liverpool have Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mané, Bayern have Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry.
The Barcelona team, all these years, has been stacked with players who love having the ball at their feet all the time – Lionel Messi, Philippe Coutinho, Antoine Griezmann…The reason Messi’s last few years have been wasted is that he hasn’t been provided with a runner to get at the end of his through balls. This problem cannot occur again.
Barcelona’s future lies with talented playmakers like Francisco Trincão, Pedri, Riqui Puig, etc, and these playmakers need a proficient and clinical striker with good off the ball movement, to score goals for the team. Håland doesn’t only have a good physique, he is also an intelligent footballer. He knows how to time runs, how to hold the defence, and is a lethal shooter of the ball.
Erling Braut Håland would be quite an unorthodox signing for Barcelona. Quite unlike all of his predecessors. But if the club’s transfer policy fails to evolve while the game itself is evolving, then the Catalan club is going to become a relic of the past. A player like Lionel Messi is never going to appear again. Thus, after his departure, if Barcelona want to dominate in Europe like they once did, the team is going to have to function like a system, and Erling Håland is the piece that fits the puzzle the best.
So apart from everything discussed in this article, why should Erling Håland join Barcelona? Well, in his own words: why not?