Not for the first time Luis Suarez will start the season suspended and under cloud. In fact this will not be the first time he leaves a World Cup suspended but the difference is that in 2010 whilst most didn’t like his actions, handballing to save Uruguay’s quarter-final against Ghana, they understood them. This time they don’t.
Suarez has enjoyed a love-hate relationship with English football but it was believed that he had turned a corner and matured this season. After Uruguay’s game against Italy nobody believes that anymore. Before the World Cup there were rumours linking him to a move to Spain. After the biting incident against Italy some would have expected that interest to die down but it hasn’t.
Rumours linking Suarez to Spain aren’t anything new. In 2012 after being banned for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, it was believed that the player wanted to leave England. The reason has become a common complaint from Suarez: the Press. Suarez has accused the English media of having an agenda against him on numerous occasions and even tried to defend his biting of Giorgio Chiellini claiming it was an English or European conspiracy.
Prior the World Cup it appeared that fences had been mended between the Press and the Uruguayan after an impressive season at Liverpool. But, a move abroad seems to be closer now than ever but with FIFA’s ban, is a move still a realistic possibility?
Real Madrid were first linked with the player. When he signed his new contract with the Reds, it was said that there was a release clause of €80m included. Real Madrid and Barcelona would have no problem paying such a fee. Interest from Los Blancos seems to have died down over the past few weeks but Barca have emerged as suitors.
The Catalan Press have been reporting for weeks that the club have been considering a move for the striker and it seems his latest indiscretion hasn’t deterred the Spanish media. When he bit Chiellini, Sport announced that he was perfect for the club as he would add a little bite to the team. Since the ban was announced both the English and Spanish papers are still claiming that the Catalan outfit are still interested. But is it the right move for them?
On the pitch it was a season to forget for Los Cules. Off it was an embarrassment. The club have gone from one PR disaster to another. First it was the way they handled Eric Abidal. When the Frenchman had to have a liver transplant, the club originally said that they would give him a new contract, but then appeared to renegade on the offer.
Then there were the Lionel Messi tax issues. Although the club were no way involved and did nothing wrong, it still didn’t stop its name being brought up when Messi made headlines. And then came Neymar.
The Brazilian forward signed for Barca last summer but the deal was shrouded in secrecy. After one socio demanded the details to be revealed, it brought down President Sandro Rosell. The club eventually released the figures and it was a complete PR nightmare. Barca were once seen as the club of the people but here they were hiding things and doing strange deals.
Then FIFA placed a two-year ban on the club for signing underage players. The club appealed and got it delayed but it muddied Barca’s reputation. The image of the club had been tarnished and with that in mind, Barca will be considering very carefully whether signing the Uruguayan would really be worth it. There is no doubting his talent but the baggage he brings with him cannot be denied.
Should Barca sign the Liverpool talisman and he proves a success, it would be a huge feather in the cap for President Josep Maria Bartomeu. Neymar was seen as a huge win for Rosell but in the end he was the man that brought down the President. Suarez has the ability to do the same.
Should he compete his ban, Suarez will have been suspended for 42 games since 2010, only receiving one red card in the process. Should Barca sign him he would not be able to play until November. His four-month ban still has issues to be resolved. He has been banned from ‘football activity’ and there are doubts to whether he can train or not, which would mean his fitness levels would be poor and might need to wait until December before being match fit.
A few days ago Barca were serious contenders to sign Suarez. Liverpool now have a big decision to make. They won’t want to sell the player on the cheap but also know that the player may not want to stay anymore. He may have offers from France and Italy but Spain still seems to be his preferred destination. Whoever takes him, they will need to be prepared for his brilliance and his foolishness.
There is one club that knows how to deal with such players and unfortunately for Barca it is their bitter rivals Real Madrid. One thing that is for sure is that like last season, Suarez will spend the summer under a cloud and involved in another transfer battle.