“He didn’t seem to rate him in training sessions.”
It may now seem ludicrous, but Luis Suarez arrived at Liverpool as second billing behind another January signing – Andy Carroll.
After Fernando Torres had signed for Chelsea for £50m, Liverpool went on a spending spree.
Suarez joined the Reds from Ajax in 2011 for £22.8m. While Carroll joined on a frantic deadline day for £35m from Newcastle United.
The Suarez signing would prove inspirational for Liverpool. Carroll, meanwhile, is now considered to be one of the most underwhelming pieces of transfer business by a top-six club over the last decade.
Luis Suarez excels at Liverpool
In 133 games for Liverpool, Suarez scored 82 goals and helped propel the team to an unlikely title challenge in 2014.
His time at Anfield was not without controversy, but the Uruguayan was a world-class player for Liverpool and among the best strikers to ever play in the Premier League.
Suarez joined Barcelona in 2014, where he has become Lionel Messi’s right-hand man and one of the greatest forwards in the history of the Catalan club. In 281 games for the Catalan club, the 33-year-old has scored 196 goals and was part of the team that won the Treble in his first season at Barcelona.
Why Liverpool signed Carroll
Meanwhile, Carroll lasted a season and a half at Anfield leaving to join West Ham United. In 318 appearances, Carroll has scored just 79 goals and has only registered double figures in one season – the 2010/11 campaign before he signed for Liverpool. He is now back at Newcastle, where he has failed to hold down a starting spot or find the net since returning to his hometown club,
According to the Athletic, Liverpool signed Carroll on the recommendation of Kenny Dalglish, the then Liverpool manager who wanted “Carroll to help Suarez deal with the physical challenges of English football.”
In hindsight, or even at the time, such logic seems baffling. Suarez was more than capable of ‘holding his own’ in a physical battle against any defender. And Dalglish’s idea to play a target-man alongside a creative, deeper forward, was, at that point, outdated.
“It became clear to Liverpool’s players after only a few training sessions that Suarez was a No 9. And more than capable of looking after himself,” Simon Hughes writes for the Athletic.
It was also apparent almost instantly that Carroll and Suarez would not be compatible in the same team. To get the best from Suarez, Liverpool would have to play short-passing football and look to release him into space. To get the best from Carroll, the team would need to lump the ball long and bypass midfield. From the beginning, the clash in styles was apparent in training.
“Though Suarez spoke well of his strike partner in front of the media, he didn’t seem to rate him in training sessions, where he shouted at him regularly in Spanish,” Hughes writes.
“Carroll would ask for long passes into the box from deep areas of the field. On more than one occasion, Reina grew exasperated, explaining to him in front of other team-mates that he needed to do more to adjust to the players around him.”
When Brendan Rodgers was in negotiations to become Liverpool manager in 2013, he was reportedly concerned about Carroll’s presence in the squad.
The Northern Irishman sought assurances from the club’s owner that Carroll would be moved on before he took the job. The forward joined West Ham, initially on loan, and spent the next six seasons with the club.
Originally published on July 27, 2020.