Will Luis Suarez be driven away?

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez

The recent reports linking Luis Suarez to Atletico Madrid may have appeared surprising at first, but eyebrows would have been raised only briefly once you were reminded that the Spanish side have won two of the last three Europa League/Uefa Cups and are more than likely to be playing Champions League football next season.

Any team looking to raise their profile in Europe, and backed with a large sum of expendable cash, would be looking to players like Suarez. Considering Liverpool’s current position in English football and their chances of Champions League football next season being slim to none, wouldn’t a move to the Vicente Calderon be seen as a step up for the Uruguayan?

Atletico’s reported interest should be taken as seriously as Chelsea’s relentless pursuit of Falcao. Any sale of the Colombian hit man will bring in a profit, even from the 40 million euros they paid Porto for his services last year. And with Atletico’s history of replacing big names with other’s of similar stature (Diego Forlan for Fernando Torres, Radamel Falcao for Sergio Aguero), should a move for Suarez be seen as totally unrealistic?

That’s not to suggest Liverpool will even entertain the idea of moving on their star player. At the moment, it’s hard to think of a more important and influential figure at any other club in the Premier League. Were it not for Suarez, Liverpool would certainly be hovering just above or even in the relegation zone. For that, his price is certainly more than the reported £40 million.

But for most sections of supporters up and down the country, it has become fashionable to boo Suarez. His reputation certainly warrants it, but it seems as though English football has always needed a pantomime villain, from Cristiano Ronaldo to Liverpool’s striker now. The most pleasing aspect for Liverpool, however, is that Suarez has been able to remain productive and at the height of his game even with the constant taunts and boos. You’ve only got to wonder how much more effective the player would be with a stronger cast around him.

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The debate as to whether Suarez was a great goal scorer or a scorer of great goals was one which raised the heat in the Soccer Saturday studio. The player has indeed missed a great deal of chances this season, and Liverpool certainly would have been higher up the league table had the player converted a greater percentage of his opportunities in front of goal. Regardless, it shouldn’t take away from what an outstanding player he is and can be when he’s at his most dangerous. Even with a Liverpool side who at times can look lifeless and well below par, Suarez is able to emerge from the disappointment of his surrounding teammates and produce moments of threatening brilliance.

Followers of La Liga would undoubtedly love to see what the Uruguayan can offer in Spain. It’s a league where the high-profile attackers are favoured and protected far more than in England, and there’s no question that his style of play would be a perfect marriage for the greater level of technical quality on offer in Spanish football.

But the question as to whether the player would be driven out of England due to his reputation is one that might not hold much water—at the very least, it shouldn’t be something in the mind of a player who has so far battled well against the sea of hate of English football fans.

Ronaldo was never driven out of England, rather it was a desire to play for Real Madrid which forced Manchester United to part with the forward. For Suarez, maybe similar circumstances could see him swap Anfield for La Liga.

But while his role in English football is important—again, he’s a player who people love to hate—the Premier League should be striving to retain players of his ability. His reputation for diving shouldn’t be one of the primary go-to references whenever something negative needs to be said about the player. This nonsense idea that it’s a ‘continental’ or ‘foreign’ trait needs to be done away with. Look to the many British players who continue to use this act of deception on an almost weekly basis, and try not to use Suarez’s face as a the slogan for all that as wrong with football in this country.

The incident with Patrice Evra is a disappointing knock on an excellent player’s reputation, but it doesn’t hide the fact that almost any club in England would love to have the opportunity of securing his services for a fee similar to what Liverpool paid for him in January of last year.

From Atletico’s point of view, it only seems natural to go after a player like Suarez; someone who could go some way to replicating the success and goals that Falcao has thus far brought Los Colchoneros. With the money available to them following the hypothetical sale of Falcao (and that’s how it should be seen for now), the Liverpool owners may be only too willing to cash in and bring in a sum that Atletico may be willing to pay.

However, even with Liverpool’s need to climb up to their previous standing in the Premier League, Suarez has shown 100 per cent commitment to the club. When it’s been easy to express a desire to move away, he’s remained loyal to the club and continues to put in performances of the highest standard.

For now, the Premier League should continue to enjoy the footballing side of one of the best imports in recent years. It will, however, be a damn shame if the spite of English football pushes the player out the door. Suarez has kept a cool head thus far, but how many more months of taunts will it take until he finally decides he’s had enough?


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