The world has been hit by a pandemic, Lionel Messi is leaving Barcelona and Paris-Saint Germain reached a Champions League final. By all means, 2020 has been an extraordinary year. The Uruguayan national team, although to a somewhat lesser extent, are in the middle of an unusual situation as well.
For nearly a decade, Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani scored goals on a weekly basis for Barcelona and PSG, proving themselves as two of the most lethal goal scorers on the planet. However, as years go by, both players are closing in on their sell-by date which has led the pairing into a situation they have never encountered before.
Suárez, technically still under contract at Barca for another year, has been shown the door by new manager Ronald Koeman as the Dutchman is planning a rebuild. Suárez’ intention is not to leave Barca, so the club opted to terminate his contract. Both parties are in negotiations to reach an agreement, but everything points towards Suárez entering the market as a free agent sooner rather than later. Cavani’s contract with PSG ran until July 2020 and the Parisian club has decided not to renew his deal.
What’s next for the two strikers then? You would think that all of Europe is after them, considering their undeniable qualities. It isn’t that simple. In football there is the sporting aspect and the economical aspect. Both factors are in correlation with each other obviously. However, when Suárez and Cavani signed their final deals at Barca and PSG, they both were in their prime and the agreed wages were a reflection of it. At this moment very few clubs are able or even willing to give out the exorbitant money which Suárez and Cavani have come accustomed too. And it’s understandable as both are 33, injury prone and not at the top of their game anymore.
Having said that, the two alltime top scorers of La Celeste can still offer characteristics that few can and will strengthen many teams. They will have to consider an economically more feasible deal to make themselves accessible, though. It would be the best for themselves and for Uruguay. Because make no mistake, the hitmen from Salto are still the main threats of Óscar Tabárez’ team. Come October, when the start of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers is planned, La Celeste want both players fit and firing.
Unfortunately, Cavani and Suárez are not the only two Uruguay internationals with their future still in the dark. Two midfield regulars in Matías Vecino and Lucas Torreira are far from sure of staying at their current clubs. Inter manager Antonio Conte, according to reports in Italy, does not count on Vecino for the upcoming season which leaves the Charrúa on a dead trail at Inter.
Torreira is experiencing a very similar story in London. Initially, the 24-year-old was an important player for Mikel Arteta when he took over as Arsenal manager, but due to various reasons Torreira has drifted away from prominence in Arteta’s plans. The former Sampdoria man has been heavily linked with move back to Italy and it looks likely that it will happen in the remaining weeks of the transfer window.
So where does this leave the Uruguayan national team as they prepare for another World Cup qualifying cycle? Tabárez will be looking on with a little worry but will also realize that these are some of his finest, most experienced players. Every time they put on the light blue, may it be with no match fitness or a bad knee, they will deliver. The situation is not ideal, but nothing drastic as well.
If anything, it shows the good moment that the national team is currently living. Because let’s say that the four aforementioned players will not be ready for the qualifiers, Uruguay has its replacements ready – all playing in Europe or South/North America on a high level. Jonathan Rodríguez (Cruz Azul), Darwin Núñez (Almería), Mauro Arambarri (Getafe) and Nicolás De La Cruz (River Plate), to name a few, all have had great seasons and could be called up to fill the squad and do a job. These players might not be on the exact same level but they are up to the standards required to play for Uruguay.
We will never by like Brazil who got a national pool as big as the Atlantic Ocean, full of talented fish to reel in and put on the Verde-Amarela. Nonetheless, La Celeste have come a long way from a decade ago when the strength in depth was almost non-exsistent. Nowadays, Uruguayans all over the world play for huge clubs and are making waves. In terms of talent production and especially the amount of players breaking through, the country is in a fantastic spot.