Has there ever been a footballer who has divided opinion or caused as much controversy in recent history as Luis Suarez? Despite being one of the best and most skilful players to grace the Premier League, all but his most loyal and passionate fans are relieved to see him move on. For every sublime trick and stunning goal he produced in a Liverpool shirt, there were also moments of madness which crossed the borderline of criminality. However, after Barcelona agreed a deal with the Merseyside club to sign him yesterday, it looks as if his troubled stay in England could soon be over.
Even most Liverpool fans have lost patience with their flawed hero now after a third biting incident in his career, his second since joining The Reds, not to mention his racial abuse of Patrice Evra back in 2011. The club and the fans have done all they can to defend him and give him chances of redemption over the last couple of years and just when it appeared as if a corner had been turned, he has gone on to blot his copybook again. As a result, he was also continually tarnishing Liverpool Football Club’s proud reputation as well, despite helping to lift them up the table and into title contention at the same time.
Whilst his latest offence, which was the straw that broke the camel’s back as far as Liverpool were concerned, did land Suarez another (fairly) hefty punishment, the ban from football-related activity that he has received from FIFA isn’t as harsh as it could and should have been. The maximum ban FIFA can give is a 24 match or 24 month suspension. Surely biting an opponent, during a World Cup match when the whole world is watching, warrants a longer ban towards the upper end of what they can brandish out.
However, had any of his misdemeanours taken place off the football pitch, he’d have been in serious trouble with the law and had he have been in any other profession, being sentenced for assault would’ve all but certainly got him sacked and finding another job after that would have been virtually impossible. However, not only is Luis Suarez still able to move to another club so easily (and a very big club at that) but he is doing so for one of the highest transfer fees ever paid for a footballer. All of which suggests that the very opposite is happening here, as his suitors are willing to pay top dollar for him. I’ll never know how that adds up but it seems as if being a footballer or major sporting figure makes you somehow different from everyone else and exempt from the rules and laws which apply to everyone else.
£75 million, as was the latest figure reported at the time of writing, is incredibly good business for Liverpool as they’re offloading someone who hadn’t learnt from his mistakes and was only going to make more mistakes. After he bit Branislav Ivanovic, he was given the benefit of the doubt but to do the same thing again just over 12 months later, it is clear that he has a problem and that it’s very much part of what Luis Suarez is. Also, with the money they’re receiving, they can buy a world class replacement capable of the same level of genius without the same level of controversy. Suarez himself only cost half of the money which Fernando Torres was sold to Chelsea for. Therefore, they’ve proven that it’s possible to replace world class quality with world class quality. Barcelona ought to be mindful of what they’re getting for their money as they wouldn’t want their image, which they pride themselves on, being ruined by any possible future antics by Suarez.
Whilst Liverpool and the Premier League will miss the many moments of brilliance which Suarez routinely produced, neither will miss him for the reasons why he is ultimately leaving. What is surprising is that one of the top clubs in world football is still willing to spend so much money on him. Clearly his recent behaviour hasn’t had any effect on his transfer value and it hasn’t made Barcelona any less willing to pay it. Either way, should the transfer go through as expected, he is the Catalans’ problem now.
Photo: Antoon Kuper (via Flickr)