At time of writing, Luis Suarez hasn’t been ruled out of the World Cup. The Uruguayan FA have confirmed surgery on the player’s knee and that the injury was sustained during Liverpool’s last league game against Newcastle.
The news of Suarez’s race against time to be fully fit for the World Cup would have been music to the ears of England and the nation’s supporters, who are set to meet Uruguay in the second group game of the tournament. Liverpool fans won’t mind a potential summer off for their star striker, either. A chance to recuperate and keep himself out of the shop window – though not entirely, of course – is a bonus to Brendan Rodgers and the club.
Of course, there is the other side of the argument to say Suarez could return to Liverpool later this summer completely deflated at having missed out on a South American World Cup. Let’s not dismiss how important this event is for the entire continent. The last South American World Cup was Argentina 1978. Suarez is a competitor and a winner; there’s absolutely no doubt he’d want to be a part of this tournament.
But in the event this setback keeps him out for good, is it really what fans of football in general want? We saw a similar situation come up late last year when Portugal went head-to-head with Sweden in a playoff for a place at the summer tournament in Brazil. One way or another football would lose out on a global superstar and the tournament would be worse off for it. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, at 33, has more than likely missed his last chance to play at a World Cup finals.
The same isn’t the case for Suarez on a personal level, but the World Cup is a celebration of the game and a part of it would remain in the shade without the standout player from the Premier League this past season. There’s understandable selfishness from England and Liverpool supporters over the news of the player’s injury, but really, we do want to see stars like Suarez perform on the game’s biggest stage.
It should also not be overlooked that this is a sizeable blow to Uruguay ahead of kickoff on 12th June. It goes without saying that Suarez is a key piece of the Uruguay team, but his importance goes beyond his obvious star-status in world football.
Uruguay at times use all three of Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan in attack, with Forlan playing through the middle as a striker or deep-lying forward, and the other two able to play anywhere across the front three. It’s part of the mystery surrounding Uruguay’s tactics, in that you never know what formation they’ll deploy. Naturally it’s a key aspect to their success.
Throughout the day, there have been recollections and further analysis of the injury suffered by the Liverpool forward. The surgery will reportedly require three weeks to heal before Suarez can compete, meaning he should be fit for the majority of the tournament.
It’s still early days in regards to this news and it will take some more time to understand whether we’ll see Suarez at the World Cup and if he’ll be fully fit. But the disappointment for him would be huge if he can’t effectively take part. England supporters will find some comfort in his potential absence from the group stages, but I can’t buy into the idea that Liverpool will benefit from a broken and dejected Suarez later this summer.