Date: 6th January 2012 at 5:00pm
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As of Tuesday evening Luis Suarez will serve the 8 match ban imposed by the FA, serving his first match last night against Manchester City. Having not read every word of the 115 page report, I’m in no position to comment but there are still those forming up on either side of the fence, so it’s fairly clear that there is still some part of this up for disagreement amongst the footballing world.

One thing that is pretty obvious though is that we are going to be spending the best part of the next 6 weeks without our best player and need to act. It is bad enough that we lost our most important player besides Suarez not so long ago for the rest of the season but to lose both of our most important players is a bit too much of a blow to take on the chin, especially as we will be without both Lucas and Suarez for the crucial Carling Cup games against Manchester City coming up in the next few weeks.

I have discussed this at length with friends and family in the past fortnight. Shall we sign a new striker? Should we persevere with what we have? Maybe a loan move would be a good option? All of these options have positives but also negatives so it is difficult to decide what the best way forward is.

For one, I wouldn’t want us to rush out and splurge on a striker without having done due diligence first. We made that mistake last January, to a degree, and it is still biting us in the ass. The name Darren Bent is being bandied about at the moment, with the full £24 million that Villa paid for him touted as the asking price. Sure, Bent may have done well for Villa last season with 9 goals in 15 games but he’s struggled with injury and form this season and even before that he was never worth that much. With that sort of money available in the summer – if we were to move quickly, before the Euros – we could snap up any number of talented players from abroad, having done 5 months further homework on them first. A player of Bent’s ability would be worth £12-£14 million, at most, if he were French or Italian but adding on the ‘British’ premium means he shouldn’t even be considered; it is far too much.

Then there are mentions that Chelsea are looking to get rid of Torres, with as low as £20 million supposedly being the asking price. Now, for that much of a loss it would be worth taking him off Chelsea just to further their embarrassment but given his shocking drop in form and the way he left in the first place, you would have to say again: is it worth the risk? On paper, it may well be. In reality, however, he may well need a move to another league to capture the form of the Torres we signed a few years ago.

Another option would be to go for a loan move and on paper this would certainly be the most sensible of the first two options. But if you look around there isn’t exactly a great deal of quality available as it is. And surely – surely – if a player is worth signing on loan for 6 months, he’s worth signing permanently? I mean, in many ways a club of our size takes as big a risk making a big loan signing as a full-time one. As, depending on where the player is joining from, it can take as much as 6 months for even a top-class player to hit his stride. By that time, he’ll be on his way out of the club again and we’ll have spent 6 month’s worth of wages on a player just to send him back to his club, in form.

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