Chelsea will test Liverpool’s resolve to hold on to Luis Suarez after owner Roman Abramovich put the green light on a £50 million summer bid for the striker.
Abramovich, who is expected to welcome former boss Jose Mourinho back to Stamford Bridge as the replacement for interim manager Rafael Benitez, is understood to be monitoring Suarez’s situation as he seeks to add a proven goal scorer to the Blues attack in time for the second coming of the Special One and is prepared to offer a phenomenal sum to prise him away from Anfield.
The Russian oligarch is said to be branching out in search of alternative options with primary target Falcao set to swap Atletico Madrid for the affluence of Monaco, while Napoli star Edinson Cavani is close to exchanging places with Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko to join with the Premier League runners-up.
Chelsea already have Fernando Torres and Demba Ba vying for the central strikers role and they were rotated almost every other game by Benitez during a heavy end of season schedule. The return of Romelu Lukaku from an impressive loan spell at West Brom will also provide extra competition for places, although reports indicate the Belgian youngster could farmed out on another temporary deal if he isn’t guaranteed first team football.
After seeing the club triumph in the Europa League and secure qualification to the Champions League via third position Abramovich isn’t prepared to cut corners and leave Mourinho short of strikers as he did with Benitez. The billionaire is determined to have Chelsea challenge for honours on all fronts next term and believes a trio of world class forwards is required to achieve that objective.
However, his decision to move for Suarez will be viewed as a controversial one following an incident in which he appeared to bite defender Branislav Ivanovic during the Reds’ 2-2 draw with the West London club at Anfield in April, before heading in an injury time equaliser to rescue a point for his side.
The Uruguayan international missed the final four matches of the Premier League season after being retrospectively banned for 10-games by the Football Association.
Although he finished the campaign as the top scorer for Brendan Rodgers’ side, with 30 in all competitions, it led to the Merseyside club mulled over the possibility of cutting their losses on Suarez after he incurred a second bout of adverse publicity following on from his charge for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra during a match in October 2011.
Despite being found guilty the FA handed him an eight-game suspension, as well as a £40,000 fine. Despite drawing criticism for their stance Liverpool opted to stand by Suarez and followed suit again after the skirmish with Ivanovic.
But with Daniel Sturridge proving a more than able deputy in the former Ajax strikers absence, and Phillipe Coutinho shining following his January move, Rodgers may be unable to refuse such a lucrative pot of cash that would give him the means to snare his summer transfer targets.