These are crucial days in the Uruguay international’s career after another biting ban, as the Spanish giants ponder their next move for the controversial striker
By Wayne Veysey | UK Correspondent
In the upper echelons of three of the world’s great clubs, conversation over the last 48 hours will inevitably have centred on one man.
Luis Suarez would have been the name on the lips of senior executives at Liverpool, Real Madrid and Barcelona for much of this transfer window, even had he not overshadowed the final group games of the World Cup with his chow-down on Giorgio Chiellini.
But Suarez’s latest act of jaw-dropping lunacy will have prompted a round of hurried email threads, conference calls and meetings. ‘We need to talk about Luis’ is likely to have been the gist of it.
Stances in all three boardrooms could have altered slightly after Fifa’s swift and, in these eyes, draconian, punishment ensured Suarez will not be available for selection by his club side until the end of October.
Yet football is a forgiving and moral-free environment. Especially if the player involved averages virtually a goal a game, as Suarez has over the last 18 months.
Diego Maradona, Eric Cantona and other players who have committed outrageous acts on the pitch have showed that clubs are always willing to replenish the bank accounts of those most able to help them win matches.
Before he was caught biting a fellow professional for the third time, Liverpool, Madrid and Barcelona all wanted Suarez to spearhead their attack next season.
Once the outrage has dissipated and the news agenda has moved on, the question is to what degree, if any, have their positions changed.
Suarez’s transfer market value, variously estimated at between €80 million and €100m, is unlikely to have altered by a single penny. He remains a 27-year-old, fully fit forward who allies consistency with a rare brilliance. Flawed of temperament the Uruguayan may be, but he is a football genius.
Assuming Suarez’s desire and ambition have not been diluted by the latest dark episode of his career, then employers can also count on total dedication and commitment from him.
So, what outcome can be expected when the dust settles?
As revealed by Goal when Suarez signed his new Liverpool contract last December, there is a release clause in the agreement which can only be triggered by a non-English club.
Should the specific buy-out figure, which remains unknown, be considered prohibitive, Liverpool have been given a get-out card if they decide that their prize asset has become too toxic for a club who have been embarrassed so often by his behaviour.
Chief executive Ian Ayre has said that Liverpool will wait until they have read the report of Fifa’s disciplinary committee before deciding what action to take.
There are whispers emanating from Anfield that the Merseysiders could make a legal challenge to Fifa’s decision to effectively ban Suarez from club football for two-and-a-half months for an indiscretion committed on international duty.
|FOUR-MONTH GLOBAL BAN
The games Suarez will miss
|AUG 23||Manchester City (A)|
|AUG 30||Tottenham (A)|
|SEPT 13||Aston Villa (H)|
|SEPT.16/17||Champions League Matchday 1|
|SEPT 20||West Ham (A)|
|SEPT 22||Capital One Cup Round 3
|SEPT 27||Everton (H)
|SEPT 30||Champions League Matchday 2
||West Brom (H)|
|OCT 18||QPR (A)|
|OCT 21/22||Champions League Matchday 3
|OCT 25||Hull City (H)
Who can blame them? Liverpool will be without their best player for nine Premier League matches – a quarter of the season – as well as the opening three games of their first Champions League campaign in five years. Not to mention the £2m in wages he will be paid for sitting around twiddling his thumbs for 10 weeks.
Liverpool have been aware for some time there is strong interest in Suarez from Spanish giants Madrid and Barcelona, two of only a small elite of clubs who could afford the exhorbitant package required to entice the Uruguayan from Anfield.
Both clubs can offer the prestige, glamour, financial incentives and football prospects that even vastly-improved Liverpool are unable to match.
The likelihood is that if Suarez was a priority signing for the Spanish pair four days ago, then he will remain so now.
He certainly has the pedigree to fit the bill as the annual Real Galactico signing. Meanwhile, Barcelona are undergoing the most radical overhaul of their squad in half a dozen years. The signing of Suarez would undoubtedly enhance both teams.
Despite the apparent strides made in his behaviour during the season in which he was the Premier League’s double Player of the Year, the Uruguayan has always played at the extremities of his emotions. He might argue this is what helps give him his edge.
How Suarez’s future unravels will depend upon the player himself and the extent of the support he receives from manager Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool’s American-based owners Fenway Sports Group.
It will not have been lost on FSG that Suarez’s ban strengthens the club’s position. If they shower their controversial striker with love and legal firepower, he might conclude that he would rather stay and repay them, at least for one more year. History has proved that a season starting on the sidelines need not be a barrier to a golden campaign.
As for Barcelona and Madrid, the later start to the Spanish league season means Suarez’s enforced absence would be less detrimental to either team’s playing prospects.
These are crucial days and weeks in the dramatic career of Suarez. If Liverpool are totally fixed on holding on to their star man, they should be besieging his phone with support and offering him all the backing he needs in these difficult times.
If the conclusion from FSG and Rodgers is that Suarez is now a saleable asset, the word should be relayed to Spain’s super clubs that he can go. But only if the release clause is met.