It's only the preseason, and already a long off-week between matches is making time drag in a way it didn't during the weeks in June and July when there wasn't any Liverpool football waiting tantalisingly out of reach. For those content with being out of Europe and so avoiding those somnambulant Europa League group stage Thursdays, this is your future. I don't like the future...
* In Copa America action, Luis Suarez scored a brace, was subbed off after 70 minutes carrying a yellow and with the game in hand, and now Uruguay will face the winner of tonight's Paraguay v. Venezuela match in the finals. Paraguay will be the favourite tonight, but whichever side goes through the safe money will be on Uruguay capturing its first Copa since 1995 and its fourth in total1 when the final is played on Suday at 4PM ART/3PM EST/8PM GMT. With Diego Forlan reverting to the form that saw him flop in the Premier League, that's largely down to Suarez' performances, and if the tournament had ended last night it's a safe bet that he would have been named player of the tournament.
While that's all good for Suarez personally, and while his consistent top-class displays have further cemented his position amongst the game's best—and continued to make the price Liverpool paid for him in January look an even bigger bargain in the current market—his success in helping to carry Uruguay through to the final could mean that he misses the start of the club season. Reports suggest the player is entitled to a mandatory four week break, something that would see him certain to miss the season-opener against Sunderland while perhaps just being ready for Arsenal the next week—though without having spent any meaningful time in training. There have been suggestions that since the player has in the past returned to club duties early after international action he might be available for Sunderland, however beyond questions of whether or not he's entitled to the break there is the obvious issue of the club wanting to manage his long-term fitness. Suarez may have had an enforced midseason break through suspension in the Eredivisie last year, but he also played a major role for Uruguay as they went deep into last summer's World Cup, and memories of Fernando Torres' drawn-out physical breakdown with Liverpool after the last European Championships will be fresh in the minds of many.
All of which sets up a rather odd situation where there's a good chance the player himself will seek to be involved in the first match of the season while it may be in the club's best long-term interest to tell him to go and sit on a beach somewhere for an extra week or two.
* On top of the usual rumours and transfer market insanity that goes hand-in-hand with the summer months, there's the occasional tidbit of news that seems rather more solid to pass along. In this case, it's that Liverpool is looking to come good on its stated policy of supplementing the local core at the youth academy through signing the two best English and two best international youth players they can get their hands on every season by going after 17-year-old Pachuca striker Marco Bueno. In addition to already having seen first team action with his club, Bueno recently played a starring role in Mexico's u17 World Cup triumph. At the time Liverpool was reported to have interest in a number of players involved in the tournament, and with Pachuca on record as saying the deal is all but done—contingent only on the player fitting in comfortably when he comes to Liverpool on a ten-day trial at the start of August and then agreeing to terms—it seems as though Liverpool could add yet another promising prospect to their resurgent academy.
* Speaking of Liverpool's academy and youth players, we've mentioned the NextGen Series before, a u19 Champions League equivalent that will see youngsters from the likes of Ajax, Inter Milan, Celtic, Marsailles, and Wolfsburg competing in a European tournament this season. And as the August 17th match against Sporting Lisbon that kicks off Liverpool's group stage schedule approaches, more details are beginning to come out. Perhaps most importantly from a player development and continuity standpoint—as well as for Liverpool's chances of success—is that recently promoted reserves coach Rodolfo Borrell will be taking charge of the u19s for the competition. Also of note is that Liverpool's home fixtures—including the opener against Lisbon—will be held at Anfield. While the sort of European nights the senior side might inspire in Champions League action seem unlikely, the chance to play continental opposition in a more prominent series of fixtures to likely larger and more boisterous crowds can only be a good thing for the continuing development of Liverpool's promising generation of youth players.
And with that, my coverage for the week is done, but Ed will be around to take you through the weekend, including the friendly against Hull and anything else that pops up before Suarez and Uruguay kick off the Copa America finals. In the meantime, because you know you just can't get enough...
1At least since the tournament reorganised as the Copa America in 1975 after an eight-year absence. In total they've won 14 South American titles in the continent's disorganised and at times exceptionally patchy history of international association football, though due to constantly changing formats and participants there are questions over the validity of some early titles held by Uruguay and others.