With the World Cup over, sport editor James Beeson explores whether FC Barcelona have made a mistake in signing the infamous Uruguayan muncher.
Luis Suarez has finally departed the Premier League, signing for Barcelona on a five year contract for a fee thought to be around £75 million. Whilst Liverpool are undoubtedly a poorer side without their banned talisman, I believe they have performed a masterstroke in securing such a huge sum for a player who arrives in Catalonia carrying more baggage than would be allowed on your average airline.
Make no mistake; Luis Suarez is an incredibly gifted footballer. Barcelona have signed a truly world class talent who is in the form of his life, and I’ve no doubt he will prove to be an invaluable addition to Luis Enrique’s side. However, the damage he will inevitably cause to its reputation makes his purchase a huge error of judgment from club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, and it is a decision I feel he will live to regret.
Whilst the irony of a player banned from any footballing activity signing for a club supposedly banned from transfer activity is a poor reflection of the disciplinary standards of FIFA’s governing body, it baffles me that Barcelona were prepared to pay a club record fee for a player who tarnished the reputation of his former clubs time after time with seemingly no regrets.
Suarez has a disciplinary record beyond belief. In addition to being found guilty of biting fellow players on three separate occasions, the former Ajax striker has been sent off for a deliberate goal-line handball in the last minute of a World Cup match, racially abused another player, faced repeated accusations of diving and even headbutted a referee in a career littered with controversy. It’s safe to say Suarez is not lacking in what Barcelona’s website described as ‘competitive spirit.’
There is no doubt in my mind that Suarez will act out again. In the same way as leopards never change their spots, certain players will never change their ways, and will continue to dive, spit, cheat and even bite their way to victory. Suarez is one of those players.
It amazes me that a club like Barcelona, who, prior to the Neymar tranfer fiasco, have always conducted themselves in a dignified and manner, would even contemplate signing such an unprofessional and undignified cheat. As talented as the Uruguayan may be, there are certain actions that should make players ‘off limits’ as transfer targets, and serving a four month ban for biting another player should probably be one of them.
The fact that the club cannot even unveil their new signing because he isn’t allowed inside their stadium until October, whilst incredibly amusing for most of us, ought to set alarm bells ringing already for the Catalan club. £75million for a player who is probably one bite away from a lifetime ban is a huge risk, and in all honesty if it backfires, it would be no less than they deserve.
Without Suarez, Liverpool will need to significantly strengthen before the start of the season. Their number seven scored 31 league goals last season, and replacing the Uruguayan with a world-class striker is an absolute necessity. One thing they can now commence to do is to rebuild their reputation, which was severely damaged time and time again by the antics of their former talisman.
From a footballing perspective, the Premier League is a much poorer place without Luis Suarez. From a disciplinary one, however, I couldn’t be happier to see the back of him.