And yes, it's Luis Suarez, as studies have indicated it's not big-money transfers that correlate to silverware, but big-money contracts.
It is one of the basic principles of renowned book, Soccernomics, by noted journalist Simon Kuper and esteemed economist Stefan Szymanski; it is not exorbitant transfer fees and marquee player recruitment that directly correlate to what position a club occupies in the division by the season's end but, rather, how handsomely they pay their playing staff.
In the book, Kuper and Szymanski write: 'The amount that almost any club spends on transfer fees bears little relation to where it finishes in the league. We studied the spending of 40 English clubs between 1978 and 1997, and found that their outlay on transfers explained only 16% of their total variation in league position.
'By contrast, their spending on salaries explained a massive 92% of that variation. In the 1998-2007 period, spending on salaries by clubs in the Premier League and the Championship… still explained 89% of the variation in league position.'
Their conclusion was telling: 'High wages help a club much more than do spectacular transfers.'
Liverpool will do well to take heed of this argument when assessing how they spend any available money during the upcoming winter transfer window.
Brendan Rodgers has been linked with a plethora of names ahead of the post-Christmas market, including: Paris Saint Germain playmaker Javier Pastore, Olympiacos star Konstantinos Mitroglou, Atletico Madrid middle-man Koke Resurreccion, Barcelona full-back Martin Montoya and Dundee United breakout star Ryan Gauld.
But, rather than dip into the transfer kitty to sign, say, Mitroglou for what could be up to £10m, perhaps that financing should go toward a significant rise in the salary of Luis Suarez.
For weeks, this writer has praised the attacking ruthlessness of the Uruguayan (here, two weeks ago and here, in October). His games to goals ratio is without parallel, he is plying his trade in a tough league from top to bottom yet he is outscoring who the European elite are regarded to be in Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid and Barcelona magic-man Lionel Messi (in terms of minutes per goal/assist).
Suarez fully deserves to be mentioned in this exclusive club and, if Liverpool have designs on convincing their forward to remain at Anfield in the medium or long run, then they must give him a contract deserving of the aforementioned superstars.
Former Liverpool player Dietmar Hamann may disagree, as he believes any contract offer may come with caveats. He is quoted by this morning's Metro to have said: 'What must not happen is we have a situation next summer as we had last summer.
'He could sign a contract now, take the £200,000 per week, the team finishes outside the top four and you have the same shenanigans. There needs to be clarity. He has got to understand what it means to commit.
'If there is clause that he can go for £60m, £80m and someone pays it - fair enough, but you can't have a situation again like you had last summer.'
If there is any clause in Suarez's prospective deal, even if it was £100m, it will be met by one of the 26-year-old's many admirers. He is, after all, allegedly wanted by Real Madrid and Arsene Wenger just recently called him, to paraphrase, an 'angel and demon' who would be a dream addition for most, if not all, managers.
Liverpool have 23 matches left in their Premier League season (including one FA Cup match), with the potential for more fixtures should they go on an FA Cup run. If he continued at his current rate of goals and assists from Premier League and League Cup competition (23 from 1,077 minutes) then he'll score or set-up a goal a further 45 times should he play in every single minute currently available to himself and to Liverpool in the season.
If he were to sign a £225,000 per week contract (Sergio Aguero at Manchester City, for argument's sake, is on £200k p/w, whereas Wayne Rooney earns £250,000 p/w at Manchester United), that would be the equivalent of Liverpool paying £130,000 for every goal Suarez scores himself or creates for others in the next six months.
Does that sound a lot? It shouldn't.
There are a minimum of 27 matches remaining in United's fixture list, or 2,430 minutes available to Rooney, who would cost United approximately £230,000 for every goal or assist he returns for the rest of the season if he played in every minute and if he continued at his current rate of one goal or assist every 85 minutes (Premier League data used).
Suarez, even on a substantial pay-rise to £225,000 per week, would still be greater value for money than the Premier League's highest earner.
Considering the Soccernomics* analysis, that high wages have a far likelier chance of leading to success in the league table, surely that would be money well spent?
*It should be noted that Soccernomics was largely influenced by baseball aficionado Billy Beane, the subject of Moneyball, a revolutionary book authored by Michael Lewis concerned, like Soccernomics, about economics in the sport. Beane's expertise was, and is, so great, so respected, that Liverpool owner John W Henry attempted to recruit him for the Boston Red Sox in 2002.
How much do you think Liverpool should be prepared to pay Suarez?
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