Once, defendable. Twice, questionable. Three times… utter madness. From the off, it has to be said that Luis Suarez is an exceptionable footballer. Few can do what he can with the ball at his feet, with the chant ‘he can nutmeg a mermaid’ often heard at Anfield on a matchday. 31 Premier League goals in 2013/14 also illustrate his consistency. And having swept the board at the end of season awards recently, he clearly has the respect and admiration of his fellow professionals.
But this time I’m afraid none of that is enough. In case you have been living under a rock for the last 24 hours, Suarez has bitten a fellow footballer. This should come as a shock, but incidents with Branislav Ivanovic and Otman Bakkal in the past (YouTube either if you haven’t seen them) make it a worryingly repetitive state of affairs.
The reaction today has been, understandably, condemning. Ex-pros, fans and Giorgio Chiellini – the man with the scarred shoulder from events in Natal – have all spoken out against ‘El Pistolero’, and even the most ardent of Liverpool or Uruguay fans will surely find it tough to defend the striker. That’s because there is no defending him this time. Misdemeanours have haunted the undoubtedly talented forward throughout his career, with handballs, dives, obscene gestures and petulant behaviour having created a list that is bafflingly long for a 27-year-old.
Suarez has been handed redemption in the past. Rightly or wrongly Liverpool stuck by him when he was accused of racially abusing Patrice Evra, then they fought tooth and nail to keep him at Anfield after his nibble on Ivanovic’s arm, while in between managers Kenny Dalglish and Brendan Rodgers have put their reputations on the line by defending his on-field theatrics.
For all intents and purposes it looked as if Suarez has changed his ways last season. The dives were fewer and further between, the immature acts were again less frequent and there were just six yellow cards plucked from referees’ pockets and shown to the South American in the league.
Steven Gerrard – England and Liverpool captain – also wrote a glowing account of his team-mate as he claimed honours for his displays a matter of months ago, praising his changed persona and outstanding character.
That’s what makes last night’s actions inexcusable and may well leave the club that has shown such faith in him with their hands tied.
Suarez has to be sold. End of. Liverpool cannot have a player so frequently involved in embarrassing and high profile incidents. His position is now more untenable than it has ever been (and that is saying something!). After all, how can a global brand as big as Liverpool be aligned with acts in front of a global audience that would be condemned at a children’s playgroup?
Some fans are crying for help to be given to their unhinged star, but the truth is he’s been given advice and guidance, had affection and been afforded numerous chances by the Reds.
This is it. The final straw. The camel’s back has well and truly been broken.
So what next? Luckily for Liverpool Real Madrid and Barcelona are circling, not to mention PSG. All of these club’s are likely to be still be willing to take a chance on the supremely talented footballer, and would probably pay around £40m. This may be some way off of the £80m-£100m that’s been mooted for so long, but a massive amount of money for a liability.
Stars such as Alexis Sanchez – who has been mightily impressive at the World Cup – could be brought in for such sums, and would surely not bring the baggage Suarez successfully got through John Lennon Airport in January 2011.
Simply put, this is it. But don’t just take my word for it. A former Liverpool striker and club icon who goes by the name of Robbie Fowler also thinks so. And given his ties to the club and the people of Merseyside, his words carry clout:
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Suarez left now,” he told talkSPORT this morning
“He’s dragged the good name of Liverpool through the mud again, and it’s not right.
“You can’t defend him.
“I love him as a player but you cannot condone what he’s done.”
Liverpool will have a better chance of lifting the league title they so crave next season with Suarez, and may even be able to add a sixth European cup to their collection. But doing the right thing is also important. And the right thing looks to be cutting Suarez loose.
It’s a sad day.