Luis Suarez bite: Will ban for Liverpool striker have any impact on possible transfer to Real Madrid or Barcelona?
The Uruguay striker will miss four months of football following today's announcement from Fifa
Thursday 26 June 2014
While news of Luis Suarez’s four-month ban from all football-related activity reverberated around Uruguay and Liverpool, ears will have pricked in Barcelona and Madrid too.
Suarez, who will not be able to kick a ball in competitive anger until the end of October owing to the punishment handed out for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini in the World Cup, has been linked with a move to one of Spain’s big two this summer.
Now, after the Fifa Disciplinary Committee found him guilty of breaching a number of regulations in his country’s final Group D game against Italy, which they won 1-0 to progress to a knockout stage date with Columbia on Saturday, his club future has been thrown up in the air.
Read more: What Liverpool matches will he miss?
Chiellini pokes fun at Suarez
Comment: Let's move past shock value
Liverpool have built a team around the former Ajax man and will have been keen to keep him as they venture back into the Champions League next season. The 27-year-old penned a new four-and-a-half-year deal at Anfield in December with manager Brendan Rodgers saying: ”Luis is a world-class talent and securing his services is crucial for what we are trying to achieve here.”
Monday’s incident may well be the straw that broke the camel’s back, however. Liverpool’s desperate desire to cling on to one of the world’s best players, who scooped up all the major individual honours in the Premier League last season and shared the European Golden Shoe with Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, could be outweighed by a knowledge that their key man will have missed over 30 games in three years through suspension without receiving a red card.
A previous biting incident in the Premier League on Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, his second such attack following his days at Ajax, and a suspension for what the Football Association deemed to be racist abuse towards Manchester United defender Patrice Evra clocked up plenty of time on the sidelines. Now Suarez will miss Liverpool’s first nine league matches next season, as well as three Champions League fixtures and one in the League Cup.
Liverpool will wait until they have read the full report from the Disciplinary Committee before making a further comment on Suarez’s future but they may well have grown tired of making a defence for a player they have stood by plenty of times before. At the time of announcing the Uruguayan’s bumper new deal late last year, chairman Tom Werner said: “Our primary motive is to do what is best for Liverpool Football Club”. What’s best now may well be different to what was best back then.
The incident in Natal has already thrown Suarez’s club future into doubt but Barcelona and Real Madrid will be waiting with baited breath for Liverpool’s full statement. Both are interested in signing a player they believe will only improve their squad. Lionel Messi and Neymar would link-up with their fellow South American in Luis Enrique’s front three while Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale would do the same at the Bernabeu. Both forward lines would strike terror into their closest rivals next season.
Whether the pair would now touch a player many see as uncontrollable on the pitch is another matter. Both wouldn’t have had to think twice before his latest incident but now it wouldn’t only be the early-season ban that would put the pair off, it would be the stigma attached to the player.
Barcelona point-blank refused to appoint Jose Mourinho as coach before Pep Guardiola was confirmed as boss of the Blaugrana because they were afraid his methods with the would start unwanted fires around the club. Suarez’s on-field behaviour could be seen in the same light. There’s also the Messi factor, with the Argentine not setting the world alight alongside Neymar as Barca had hoped. Another star name in Suarez could upset the balance further.
Luis Suarez holds his teeth after colliding with Giorgio Chiellini
Madrid would also be wary of the unwanted attributes Suarez would bring to the Spanish capital. Los Blancos hand out a book of conduct to all new players on arrival and the Liverpool man will already have fallen foul of many of those. After the calm Carlo Ancelotti brought to a club with an internal war on Mourinho’s departure, the arrival of a player such as Suarez may not be the best option, even though he will bring the on-the-pitch qualities few in the world can match.
There’s also the difficulty of blending the player into a team that would already be a couple of months into the season. In Karim Benzema, Madrid has a player who excelled last season and who may continue to excel at the start of next term, making it politically difficult for Ancelotti and president Florentino Perez to agree on throwing Suarez a starting role even if he hasn’t deserved it. The same will apply at the Camp Nou.
Reports in Spain suggest Suarez has a release clause of between £65m and £70m but that release clause would lower towards £50m if one of the clubs bidding was either Barca or Madrid. Liverpool have ignored a previous release clause of £40m plus £1 initiated by Arsenal last summer, however. The Catalans are also understood to be considering including Chile international Alexis Sanchez as part of a potential deal.
Whatever happens in the coming months one club will have one of the best players in the world, something few will disagree with. Whether they can cope with the baggage Suarez brings remains to be seen. Whether that will be Barcelona, Liverpool or Real Madrid remains to be seen, too. What was set to be the biggest transfer story of the summer has just got a lot more interesting.
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