The Liverpool striker is a doubt for the World Cup with a knee injury and has been linked with a €86m move to Real Madrid despite insisting he is happy at Anfield
By Greg Stobart
The news that Luis Suarez is a doubt for the World Cup has thrown Uruguay’s preparations for the tournament into turmoil and represents a huge blow for a player whose talents deserve to be highlighted on the global stage.
Speculation is already wild as to how long Suarez will be kept out by the knee injury for which he will undergo surgery on Thursday following the results of an MRI scan.
While John Terry recovered from the procedure within two weeks, Fernando Torres had to wait seven weeks to play after the same operation. The usual recovery period is around one month, which would rule Suarez out of the start of the World Cup and, in all probability, Uruguay’s opener against Costa Rica on June 14.
In his favour is the fact that Suarez has an almost flawless fitness record and the willpower to play through pain, with the Liverpool striker’s agent insisting his client will be fit for the World Cup.
While the English media will interpret the news as a boost to the Three Lions’ chances of qualifying out of Group D in Brazil, there is also an acknowledgment that a player of his quality should be shining at the World Cup.
Suarez, 27, led Liverpool’s title charge this season and was rightly awarded both player of the year awards in England after scoring a stunning 31 goals in 33 Premier League appearances without taking penalties.
His performances during the campaign were rewarded in December when Suarez signed a four-and-a-half year contract worth £200,000-a-week just months after he had tried to force a £40 million move away from Anfield to Arsenal.
“I signed the contract because I love it here and I’m so happy here. If you’re not happy here you don’t sign any contract,” Suarez said earlier this month.
Suarez has consistently spoken of his happiness at Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers’ side have delivered on his ambition to play in the Champions League next season.
Yet the rumours within the game are swirling that the former Ajax man is the number one ‘galactico’ target of the summer for Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.
If that is the case, you can expect to see Suarez plastered all over the front pages of Madrid-based sports paper Marca this summer in a repeat of the tactics that took Gareth Bale to the Santiago Bernabeu for a world record €100m fee last summer.
When Real Madrid want a player, they usually get him. Liverpool will know that and will be aware of the potential lure for Suarez of moving to the biggest club in the world in a Spanish-speaking country.
Alongside Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, Suarez could expect to challenge every season for the Spanish title and the Champions League. Liverpool will have to prove next term that this year’s title challenge was not a one-off.
Some stellar performances in Brazil might be that catalyst for Madrid to firm up their interest in Suarez, who is represented by the brother of Pep Guardiola.
And away from the controlled public relations environment on Merseyside, Suarez has shown in the past that he is willing to create a fuss to try and push through a transfer. Last summer, he gave a series of interviews expressing his desire to leave Liverpool in search of Champions League football as Reds owner John W Henry resisted Arsenal’s advances.
Liverpool’s firm stance was justified by Suarez’s performances and the Kop quickly forgave their No.7 as Suarez produced some mesmerising performances and showed no signs of any dip in his commitment.
Real Madrid, however, is a different proposition and perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Suarez’s future could yet turn into the transfer saga of the summer. But first he will be fully focused on making sure he can feature for Uruguay at the World Cup.