Luis Suarez; a player almost everyone, be they fellow player or fan, loves to hate. I must say myself, I don’t like him. I find his personal tactic of diving and riling opponents, managers, referees, you name it, both pathetic and irritating. But without going on, the Uruguayan is something the Premier League could do with, for drama, aswell as skill. Whilst his many misdemeanours may be the main talking point surrounding him, he has sneaked his way to the top of the goal-scoring charts in England’s top division, is this the start of a change? Can he become as loved in England as he was in Holland for his exploits with Ajax, which incidentally involved biting an opponent’s shoulder, only time will tell…
As Suarez arrived on Merseyside, Liverpool were a side in major transition. After a couple of turbulent financial years under the stewardship of American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, another American, John Henry had taken the reigns amongst a new wave of positive energy at Anfield. Suarez was the first in a range of changes that hit the club, joining at the end of the January transfer window as part of a brand-new forward partnership with fellow signing Andy Carroll. Together the pair cost £50 million plus, replacing the out-going Fernando Torres, in a deal many would argue has hardly worked out for either party.
Torres has won the trophies he desired and wasn’t getting at Anfield, but to much ridicule, still not hitting his golden form at Stamford Bridge, although I’m sure his double at the Euro’s of the actual trophy and golden boot were pretty sweet for the Spaniard. Then we have Carroll, who’s since been shunted out of Liverpool, with the excuse being he ‘doesn’t fit the system’ of new manager Brendan Rodgers, and so can be found out on loan at West Ham United for the duration of this season. Not something that many clubs record signings have to face, but then not many clubs are Liverpool.
And then we come back to Luis Suarez. The man has been embroiled in a ridiculous amount of controversy since he arrived in England. To begin with, the summer before he transferred to Merseyside, saw him become hated around the world for deliberately handballing a certain goal in the Ghana-Uruguay World Cup Quarter-Final. Ghana missed the last-minute penalty, Uruguay came 4th in the World Cup, and pictures of a jubilant Suarez riled the world. Then the infamous biting incident which saw him banned for a dozen matches, a ban ended prematurely by a move to Liverpool.
Since then, he’s been a mixed bag, in his performances and reputation. The racism case with Patrice Evra was sad. It took over the once proud name of Liverpool Football Club for a good, long time, and personally, I don’t think the club and then manager Kenny Dalglish, covered themselves in glory. They denied the charges, wore t-shirts that backed a man who was essentially charged a racist. Eventually they backed down, but it was slightly embarrassing for a club with so much rich history. After Suarez returned from another lengthy ban, he was hounded by fans up and down the country, and, to a certain extent, the media. A broken up season saw him score just 11 goals as Liverpool finished a pitiful 8th place.
Then we come to 2012-13, and again, more controversy. He’s always been one for the theatrics, be it his crowd-baiting celebrations or his diving. Again, I would say he is a diver, it can hardly be argued against, he has a reputation, but it’s one that if, as Suarez does, is repeated time after time, is obviously going to stick. He does get genuinely fouled at times and not rewarded as he should, but I believe it’s his own fault really, don’t dive at all, and then the reputation will recede, with nothing to base it on. For me, this is the most infuriating thing about Liverpool’s no. 7, he comes across as a flawed man, a cheat.
Don’t get me wrong, he has a lot of talent, shown through this season’s charting topping tally for goals in the Premier League, but if Suarez is to become a true Premier League and Liverpool legend, he’s got a long way to go as of yet. A trophy wouldn’t hurt, but other than a cup run, I can’t see anything major for this side in transition for a good number of years, especially with the Manchester clubs dominance at the top of the table.
First, he has to win over fans of football, as almost everybody I know despises the Uruguayan, stopping diving, and antagonising fans of the game would help, purely showing his talent would add to it. If I’m honest, I struggle to see a day where Suarez will be universally loved by all, he could become more of a ‘marmite’ player, but never truly appreciated. It’s a shame, but his wild antics have unfortunately led to this. Still, he could prove myself and thousands of others wrong, we’ll just have to wait and see…