It’s hardly as if Luis Suarez needed words to cultivate anything more in the way of affection from an already doting set of Liverpool supporters. Yet while it’s usually what the Uruguayan is doing with his feet that makes fans at Anfield stand up and cheer, this past week, it’s what’s been coming out of his mouth that would have prompted some fans to celebrate.
Within an interview with the Daily Mail’s Ian Ladyman last week, the former Ajax-man opened up about life in Liverpool, playing alongside Steven Gerrard and how he prefers being told off by his manager, rather than his wife.
But for as happy as supporters will be that the Suarez family seems relatively settled within their Merseyside surroundings, it was within the striker’s intentions to stay at the club past this season that would have really had supporters jumping for joy.
“But I want to say now that, if you want to know what will happen to me if we don’t qualify for the Champions League, then I will say this,” he said.
“I have a contract with Liverpool and I am very happy here. I will stay.’
As definitive answers go, it’s very rare in this day and age for a journalist to be handed a statement of intent from a Premier League footballer, which is quite as clear as that. No cryptic answers, no pussyfooting around the subject and no risk of lingering uncertainty. If Liverpool fall short of a top-four finish, Suarez will stay at the club. There it is on record, for the world to witness.
Of course, the nature of the Premier League supporter suggests that one can’t help but to naturally cringe at the sort of landmark statement that Suarez has recently given.
Time and time again we’ve seen footballers go on record saying one thing, only to make an all too predictable U-turn at the end of the season. Loyalty, it’s said, is a scarce commodity within today’s Premier League footballer.
So on face-value, it feels refreshing to hear a footballer – especially of the profile and calibre of Luis Suarez – to lay down such a public statement of intent. His outstanding tally of 17 league goals for the Reds so far, have seen the Salto-born star almost single-handedly drag his side up the league table this season.
Yet having consistently turned in the sort of performances that belong in the Champions League, it’s led many to speculate as to how long it will be before Luis Suarez will indeed find himself playing in the competition.
With Brendan Rodgers’ side looking unlikely to qualify this season and soon-to-be Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola reported to be casting his eye over Suarez, the thought of losing their crown jewel at the end of the season hasn’t been ignored by some supporters.
Although in announcing his desire to stay at the club regardless of their league finish, Suarez hasn’t just endeared himself to Liverpool supporters, in doing so he has also set himself apart from many of his peers; he’s put himself on a pedestal by going out on a limb and telling the fans exactly how it is.
Perhaps only time will tell if this is quite such a wise move and it would be foolish to doubt the Uruguayan’s loyalty so early on in the season, but in making his intentions so clear, he simply has to ensure that his decision to go public in his desire to stay is sincere and not just a cheap effort to gain short term admiration.
Had Suarez left the club this summer without making these statements, regardless of how acrimonious his departure may or may not have theoretically been, there will have always been a small group of supporters that would have despised him for leaving. But after going on record stating that he’s going to stay at the club whatever the weather next season, it’d have to take something truly remarkable for such disdain to not be felt universally around Merseyside.
Of course, if the Fenway Sports Group decided they wanted to cash in on their prized asset, that wrath is more likely to be aimed at boardroom level as opposed to the player’s doorstep. Furthermore, everyone in football – no matter how perceivably loyal – has their price.
Are we reading too much into a set of quotes that may have simply been made with the best of intentions to a set of fans that have supported him through thick and thin? After all, football is a fickle game where memories are short and loyalty is even shorter. Suarez wouldn’t be the first or most definitely the last player to potentially backtrack on a public promise to stay at the club.
But in making his recent public intentions, Suarez has the opportunity to set himself apart from the crowd and restore the faith of supporters, not just of a Liverpool following, that spoken word does still retain some of honesty within the game.
It may be a viewpoint drowned in nostalgic morality, but if Suarez has said he’s going to stay at Anfield if they don’t make the top four, then it’s absolutely imperative that he follows through with his intentions. In a game full of mercenaries, lies and distrust where the gap between players and supporters have never been so full of disillusion, how refreshing would it be for Luis Suarez to keep his word?
It seems absurd to think that we might praise a footballer for keeping his word. But in this day and age, Luis Suarez should be applauded if he’s still playing in a Liverpool shirt come September 1st– yet at the moment, that remains a very big if.