I don’t believe a player like Luis Suarez owes any club anything, no matter how big they are. There’s no hidden meaning behind it, it’s just the damning nature of the game today.
It is, more often than not, harder to replace a player like Suarez than it is for the player himself to find an equally good or better club. But for everything that is happening this summer in the Suarez saga, is it really unexpected or shocking?
Liverpool, surely, would like to think that they’re owed something back for all the times they stood by the Uruguayan, often risking their own reputation in order to maintain a working relationship with their biggest asset. But that’s not how football works, and it would be naïve to think otherwise. Beyond these two-and-a-half years Suarez has spent at Anfield, there is nothing linking him to the club. No emotional bond, no reason to extend his stay in spite of a lack of Champions League football or trophies; he is far from a Francesco Totti or even Steven Gerrard.
And even so, can we really say Suarez hasn’t given anything back to Liverpool? He’s a little (or a lot) like Carlos Tevez: a whole lot of nonsense off the pitch, but nothing but 100 per cent on it. Suarez rarely misses a beat when he takes to the field. There was a strong claim for him to be awarded Player of the Year last season. Some of his goals, the Newcastle effort springs to mind, were absolutely magnificent. He’s far from coasted along since arriving in 2011. Considering what Liverpool paid Ajax for his services, they’ve more than got a healthy return.
I’m in no way buying into the player’s claim that he wants to escape England because of the media. The thing about players like Suarez is that they have a level of resolve whereby they can brush off such harsh criticism and continue to perform at the highest level. It would be unkind to say that he doesn’t feel the effects of the continued storm of hate, but his reputation, and the media’s ability to target him, isn’t something he’s going to be rid of anytime soon. If he thinks the media in England are a handful, he’s in for a rude awakening in Spain.
For Suarez, it’s motivation to succeed. He understands, like most do, that Liverpool are in a transition, and not the luxury kind where they’re armed with blank cheques and the promise of immediate and unparalleled wealth and trophies. All of Liverpool’s building this year is to see rewards in the form of trophies a few years down the line. It’s the way most sporting clubs do it and there’s nothing wrong with Liverpool’s admirable approach. But the player himself knows that there is an alternate option, and for that the whole notion of loyalty goes out the window. Maybe labelling athletes as mercenaries is too harsh, but football isn’t the only realm where athletes move on quickly for one reason or another. The modern makeup of sports means it’s a foolish for supporters to create strong bonds with players.
We’ve been down this road before in previous years, with Fernando Torres, Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, and plenty of others switching allegiances to those who are perceived to be the enemy. Real Madrid and Barcelona, arguably the biggest football rivalry in Europe, are no strangers to it. Far be it from me to say Liverpool supporters can’t conjure up all the hate and scorn they believe Suarez is deserving of, but to suggest that the player owes Liverpool a degree of loyalty is to stubbornly fly in the face of what is the norm in modern football.
For Liverpool, the best thing that can happen for them is to receive a good fee for him – £60 million or thereabouts is unrealistic considering the circumstances – and move on. Leaving the Suarez saga hanging over them for another year and a player who doesn’t really want to be at Anfield is far too damaging and risky with so many young players now looking to help guide the club forward.
Do Liverpool deserve more from Luis Suarez?
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