The Suarez question

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There are two ways of looking at Luis Suarez.

Those who support him say he is a unique striker with magical skills who guarantees goals and who cares what other antics he gets up to?

File photo dated 25/11/2012 of Liverpool's Luis Suarez. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday July 8, 2013. Liverpool have rejected a bid from Arsenal for Luis Suarez and remain steadfast in their insistence the striker is not for sale. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

File photo dated 25/11/2012 of Liverpool's Luis Suarez. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday July 8, 2013. Liverpool have rejected a bid from Arsenal for Luis Suarez and remain steadfast in their insistence the striker is not for sale. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

Those against him trot out the familiar argument that no individual is bigger than the club and history, tradition and morals come before appeasing a player who, in his short Premier League career, has served one ban for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra and is currently serving another for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic.

There is no middle ground.

Suarez divides opinion and stirs up controversy and it is easy to see why Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers appears to have lost patience with the Uruguayan who has accused the club of breaking a promise to allow him to move if Liverpool failed to qualify for the Champions League.

“There has been total disrespect of the club,” Rodgers said after Suarez threatened to hand in a transfer request and possibly take the club to a tribunal if he is not allowed to leave Anfield.

“This is a club that is historically one of the biggest in the world and has given him everything; absolutely everything.”

Too much love, some would say, considering the way the club misguidedly supported him with their T-shirt solidarity campaign in the initial wake of the Evra affair.

Suarez, appearing to prove that some footballers possess the memory and moral compass of a goldfish, conveniently chooses to forget that support now as he plots a way to join Arsenal.

Should we be surprised? Hardly. There is no loyalty in football.

Precious little honour either in a game which indulges agents, fires managers on ludicrous whims and hands players money beyond reason and the power to come and go as they choose because no-one gets the best out of a disgruntled player, do they?

Which is why with barely a week to go before the big-kick-off to a Premier League season which promises to be the most competitive for years, the future of two great clubs, Liverpool and Arsenal, rest on the fate of a man of dubious character in Suarez and the resolution of one of the most bitter transfer sagas in recent times.

Can Liverpool really keep a player who has defied them so openly, even if their valuation of Suarez is considerably higher than Arsenal’s offer of £40m plus £1?

Yet what happens if they let Suarez go? They lose their best player by a distance to direct rivals and face starting a season in which they are desperate to regain a Champions League place without a regular striker given that Daniel Sturridge is injured.

The stakes for Rodgers and Liverpool are high, yet for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger arguably they are even higher.

Wenger has set his cap at Suarez. The 26-year-old is his idea of the marquee signing which would prove Arsenal, after eight years without a trophy, are prepared to spend big to compete with Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea. He appears to be the only egg in Wenger’s basket considering Arsenal’s sole signing so far this summer is Yaya Sanogo from Auxerre on a free transfer.

In pure football terms it is easy to see why Wenger wants Suarez, whose direct dribbling, fluid movement and individual brilliance would be a snug fit at the Emirates stadium.

It is not so easy to understand why Wenger, an intelligent and fair-minded man, would want the toxic cloud which swirls around Suarez on a regular basis.

Depressingly, however, that is football in 2013 where game-breaking talent is so rare and so powerful that owners and managers are prepared to pay any price, take any gamble, ride over any principle and sweep any misdemeanour under the carpet to get their man.

Until the next time their star player wants to move on.