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Luis Suarez - Making an Arse of himself

written by Dave Usher

 

When Luis Suarez first began shooting his mouth off about fancying a move away from Anfield, I was disappointed but not angry with him.  If Real Madrid were in for him, how could he be expected to turn them down?  For most Iberian and South American footballers, the ultimate dream is to one day play for Real Madrid or Barcelona, so if that opportunity presented itself to Suarez he was always going to take it.  

 

That would have been the case regardless of the troubles he's had in his time in England, or indeed irrespective of Liverpool's league position.  We lost Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano to Madrid and Barca, whilst Arsenal and even Manchester United have also seen key players lured away to the Spanish giants.  Generally, Real and Barca get who they want, and there are probably only a handful of footballers around that given the opportunity would not swap their present club for a switch to the Bernebeu.  If Cristiano Ronaldo was lured away from the English Champions and self proclaimed 'world's biggest club' to join Real, then what chance did Liverpool have of persuading Suarez to stay here if Madrid came calling?

 

The hope was that Madrid may have other priorities and that no other European giant came a knocking, meaning Suarez would be here for another year, if only by default.  I assumed (wrongly as it turns out) that if Madrid, Bayern, Barca, Juve etc didn't make a move for him, he'd come back here and everything would be rosy for another year.  Not an unreasonable assumption given that everything he had ever said and done up to that point suggested he was happy at Liverpool.  He had signed a contract extension last August despite the team having just finished 8th the season before.  He knew Champions League football wasn't on the immediate horizon yet he still signed an extension and collected a hefty - and well deserved - pay rise for doing so, and until very recently nobody at the club seemed concerned that the lack of Champions League football was going to result in Suarez pushing for a move as he had not led anyone to believe that was the case.  

 

In fact, the prospect of him leaving the club at all only reared it's ugly head following the 10 game suspension and subsequent media frenzy that resulted from it.  A situation that whilst overblown, was one created entirely of his own making let us not forget.  It was only then that Suarez began to question his future, and he himself said repeatedly that this was more to do with life in England becoming increasingly difficult as opposed to any issue with the club and it's lack of success. 

 

So with all this in mind, my belief until this week was that Luis didn't specifically want 'out' of Liverpool, he just wanted 'in' at Real Madrid, and if the Madrid deal didn’t come off he'd remain at Anfield and give his all, just as he's always done.  I mean, why wouldn't he?  We've regularly heard how his family love life on Merseyside and that he's settled and happy in the area.  His team-mates all speak of how much he loves the club and how committed to the cause he is.  We've even had the "I always used to play as Liverpool on Fifa when I was younger" spiel from him and he's often spoken proudly of how his daughter knows all the words to 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.  He's one of us, is Luis, he wouldn't do what nasty old Fernando Torres did, that's for sure.  

 

And just like a fool I bought into it all.  Against my better judgement, I believed him.  I believed him right up until Liverpool rejected Arsenal's inflammatory £40,000,001 bid for him and the reports began to emerge that he wasn't happy about it and wanted to talk to the Gunners.  What?  Why?  What does he need to talk to Arsenal about?  Maybe he might want to ask them when was the last time that they actually won something?  Or maybe he needs to clarify whether London is actually in England, as after all, he can't stay in England because of the nasty press and those pesky paparazzi who won't leave his wife and daughter alone whenever he leaves the house.  So he claimed anyway.

 

Call me naive, but this week's developments have caught me completely off guard as I never thought for one second he'd even consider joining another English club.  I'm sure it's taken some of his team-mates by surprise too.  He'd stated that his reason for needing to get away from Liverpool was solely the treatment he'd received at the hands of the English press.  Now, apparently, it's about wanting to play in the Champions League.  Yet he never mentioned the Champions League in any of those interviews, he only spoke of needing to leave Anfield because of the harsh press treatment he's endured in England.  And once again, let me repeat, he signed a contract extension even though we'd just finished 8th and in all likelihood there would be no Champions League football in the club's immediate future.  

 

I can’t get my head around it to be honest. Is he really considering joining Arsenal, or is this a ploy by his agent to smoke out Real Madrid or another club he has his eye on?  If he wants to play in the Champions League, going to Arsenal is a risky move as they've only been qualifying by the skin of their teeth recently and appear to be by far the most vulnerable of the current top four.  Hypothetically speaking, Suarez could go there and get knocked out in the group stages as well as finishing 5th in the Premier League, meaning no Champions League football the following season.  Of course he could go there and win both trophies, but I know which scenario seems most likely, and it isn't the latter.

 

It's clearly not about money, as the Reds would easily match whatever Arsenal offered if it meant keeping the player.  It can't be about trophies either, as despite Liverpool's recent woes we've still managed to win two trophies since Arsenal last lifted silverware.  So what does that leave?  The Champions League it seems, but is Suarez really prepared to dump on Liverpool from such a great height, to betray the fans that idolise him and have supported him so loyally, just to play a handful of Champions League group games and maybe one or two knockout rounds if the draw is kind? 

 

I'm not convinced he is, my gut feeling is that his agent is stringing Arsenal along in the hope of forcing the hand of other interested parties.  Of course I could be wrong and maybe he really is that stupid and is up for joining Arsenal, but it matters not either way as to even be seen as entertaining the idea of leaving Anfield for the Emirates is a slap to the face of each and every Red that has stood by him throughout his numerous troubles.  

 

I understand him wanting to move on, I really do.  As much as it pains me to say it, as one of the top five players in world football he shouldn't be playing for a team that can't even make the top four (or indeed six) in their domestic league.  He should be playing for one of the best teams in Europe, competing for the top prizes and presently that isn't Liverpool.  It's not Arsenal either though, is it?  

 

Suarez can do better than Wenger's men if he leaves Anfield, but more importantly he shouldn't even be thinking about joining another English club after the incredible support he's had from Liverpool fans through his various disciplinary issues.  He tells everyone how much he appreciates that support and how much he loves Liverpool, but he sure has got a funny way of showing it hasn't he?  

 

Arsenal are the team that Liverpool have trained their sights on for this season, so why would we allow our best player to join the one top four team that we feel we have a realistic chance of catching?  Selling to Arsenal - regardless of the fee - simply should not even be an option for LFC.  In the long term it would be more prudent to sell abroad for £30m than to do business with Arsenal for even double that amount when you factor in the potential revenues that regular Champions League qualification brings.  

 

LFC simply have to get back into those top four positions and given how far ahead both Manchester clubs and Chelsea presently are, that means the best chance of doing that is to overhaul Arsenal.  Selling Suarez to the Gunners would immediately make them much stronger and Liverpool much weaker for this coming season, therefore making Brendan Rodgers' job of gatecrashing the top four considerably more difficult.  Not just for this season, but for years to come, and the financial implications of that dwarf any potential difference in transfer fee between selling abroad or to Arsenal.

 

This whole situation is relatively uncharted territory for us as it's extremely rare that players choose to leave Anfield to join another English club, and frankly the idea of this happening with Suarez hurts.  Torres is the only example I can think of, and it's not a pleasant experience seeing a former idol running around in the colours of a rival club.  Suarez hasn't made that kind of leap yet, but he appears to be on the brink of doing so.

 

However this plays out now, the one thing I'll take from it is that Luis Suarez is not the man I thought he was.  That probably says more about me than him though, as I really should know better than to put any kind of stock in the character of a modern day footballer.

 

Dave

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