As if Luis Suarez hadn’t already made himself an easy target for the British media, the Liverpool forward has now made matters worse for himself, at least in the short-term, by declaring he wants to leave the Premier League due to the intense criticism he receives on the part of the press.
Of course, it is certainly a case of ‘no smoke without fire’ with a string of incidents and constant controversy triggering such a widespread adverse reaction to the Uraguayan’s behaviour, but regardless, Suarez has now become one of the summer’s most hotly desired purchases in Europe, along with Robert Lewandowski and Edinson Cavani.
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In addition to the tabloids making Suarez’s life more difficult, the Reds talisman also feels that his club have let him down in showing a lack of support following his eight match suspension for biting Branislav Ivanovic during an Anfield clash in April. The striker has openly admitted his preferred move would be to Real Madrid, who have reportedly been interested in his services for some time, however, if it is simply a new home that will show him more affection that Suarez is looking for, should some of the Premier League’s elite clubs consider making a bid for the want-away forward?
There is no denying Suarez’s abilities. The Liverpool forward showed talismanic powers during the first half of the season, being the Reds’ first port of call in building attacks, not to mention being the only player on the roster at Anfield who could provide a steady supply of goals. The Uruguayan international finished the season, all be it a few games short due to his ban, with 23 goals and 5 assists in 33 appearances, yet his rate of providing goals would have undoubtedly been much higher had he the benefit of Daniel Sturrridge as a strike partner for more than a handful of games.
There’s also some truth behind the claim that Suarez would have picked up the PFA Player of the Year award had he not such a negative stigmatism in the eyes of the footballing public. Whilst Bale’s come of age year has been truly incredible to witness at times, and Robin Van Persie has maintained his ruthless efficiency following his £20million transfer to Manchester United, Suarez has been on par in terms of performances and end product with both this season, but arguably deserves further praise for doing it at a club that struggled to get out of the bottom half of the Premier League table before the end of the year. Brendan Rodgers’ inaugural season at Anfield would have been much tougher had his only world-class talent not been firing on all cylinders, and it’s obvious why Suarez’ transfer situation has brought interest from the Bernabeu.
Yet, just as his capabilities as a football are well known, so are his shortcomings as a professional. Although time and the reasoning of cultural ignorance has allowed us to put Suarez’ racial slur at Patrice Evra behind us, it is hardly the first or last showing where the striker’s desperate competitiveness has pushed him towards erratic behaviour. The bite on Ivanovic was the second incident of that kind during his career, the first coming in the Eredivisie and earning him the nickname ‘the cannibal’ in Holland, whilst over the course of the current season, television coverage has caught Suarez partaking in x-rated shin rakes and dirty tackles on more than one occasion – his ten yellow cards tell its own story, yet the tally could easily have been higher and included red cards.
But as previously stated, Suarez’s quality is simply undeniable. At his best he is unplayable, and when the balance between competitive aggression and composure is reached, there are arguably none better at fulfilling the Reds man’s role as a hard-working front man that encompasses the passing and dribbling ability of an attacking midfielder, in addition to the poacher’s instinct of a natural striker.
If a Premier League club is to convince Suarez to stay on English shores however, they will have to waggle an incredibly delicious carrot in front of him, whilst also being incredibly refrained in their use of the stick. Considering his ability, it seems that he would only be available to the Premiership’s top three, all of whom have an assured future in Europe barring a few hiccups and also have relatively equal standing in the title race next season. The promise of accolades and trophies could be enough for Suarez to reconsider a move to La Liga, yet, as ever in the modern age of football, it will also take a rather sizable pay-cheque to convince him to put up with the constant heckling of the British media for the foreseeable future.
That being said, would Manchester United, Manchester City or Chelsea be willing to actually pursue the intensely disliked Suarez? All three have the financial power at their disposal to do so, and all three need bolstering up front this summer, however it still seems an unrealistic possibility.
It’s unlikely he’d receive a warm welcome at Old Trafford, especially whilst Patrice Evra is still there, but even if the Frenchman took a widely rumoured pay-out and moved to Monaco over the summer, his history with Liverpool will undoubtedly make him a boo-boy amongst the fans. Similarly, although Jose Mourinho enjoys the limelight of his own controversy, only a matter of months has passed since Suarez tried to take a chunk out of the arm of a fan favourite at Stamford Bridge.
It leaves the only viable option as Manchester City, yet I’m sure the SkyBlues would much rather put an era of babysitting their stars in case of temper tantrums behind them with the appointment of Manuel Pellegrini, after his predecessor Roberto Mancini had to put up with the egotistical, childish antics of Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez behind them.
That being said, Suarez and the Premier League is a combination that clearly works. Whereas Edinson Cavani and Robert Lewandowski are untested in the English top flight, the Liverpool forward has a record of 38 goals in 77 domestic appearances. Similarly, his price tag, set at £40million due to his release clause, is relatively cheap considering the star quality that Suarez provides, in comparison to Bale, with estimates ranging from £50million to £80million, and Cavani, who would also cost somewhere in the region of £50million. It’s the kind of transfer that may not go down well with the supporters at first, but could lead to silverware and titles should Suarez’s antics be kept to a minimum.
My humble opinion is however that the Premier League’s love-hate relationship with Suarez has come to an end. It’s quite clear that he would much rather ply his trade abroad, citing how the pressure from the media is venturing into his personal life, and I cannot foresee either David Moyes, Manuel Pellegrini or Jose Mourinho desperate to convince him otherwise. In some ways, the Liverpool striker has brought it upon himself, as his incidents have often verged upon being unforgivable, but it is a shame that the media have ostracised and pushed away one of the English top flight’s biggest talents, who will now undoubtedly move on to a higher calling.
Regarding the proposed move to Real Madrid however – has his agent actually informed him of the intensity in terms of volume and criticism of the Spanish media? Compared to their La Liga counter-parts, the British press is an ignorant, loudmouthed lout, rather than an intrusive and overwhelming monster.