Suarez: A Retrospective

Oliver Kay said it right when he applied the above quotation to Luis Suarez’s time at Liverpool Football Club. Suarez’s Liverpool career had its highs and lows, and it can be complicated to retrospectively describe the player’s tumultuous career in red. Now that a few days have passed since the official confirmation of Luis Suarez’s departure from Liverpool to join FC Barcelona in a deal worth £75m, it is an appropriate time to reflect on the polarizing Uruguayan’s three seasons at Anfield in order to remember his legacy and look to the club’s future without him.

Suarez in Red: The Highs

lfc-booksFirst and foremost Luis Suarez’s time at Liverpool, will be remembered by the striker’s exceptional play and propensity to score goals which other players could not even imagine. His ability has manifested itself in silverware – namely the 2012 League Cup – as well as a slew of individual awards. Including the Premier League Golden Boot, PFA Players’ Player of the Year, FWA Footballer of the Year, European Golden Shoe, Barclays Player of the Season, FSF Player of the Season, and ESM Team of the Year awards following a 2013-14 season which witnessed the fiery forward amass an incredible 31 goals in 33 games.
It is difficult to describe in words the utter footballing class which Suarez demonstrated throughout his Liverpool career. From his multiple master classes against John Ruddy and Norwich City, to his various wonder strikes against the likes of Manchester City, Everton, and Newcastle, the Uruguayan demonstrated an indelible hunger for the extraordinary. Unfortunately, this single-minded hunger – both metaphorical and literal — has overshadowed much of Suarez’s legacy and tarnished his incredible talent with a deservedly poor reputation among football fans the world over.

Suarez in Red: The Lows

Luis Suarez will be forever known as one of the most controversial figures in Premier League history, a player that Reds loved and other fans loved to hate. Beyond general allegations of diving and dirty play, two events primarily marked Suarez’s time in England: the Patrice Evra racial abuse affair, and the bite of Branislav Ivanovic.
On October 15, 2011, perennial rivals Manchester United and Liverpool faced off at Anfield. In the 62nd minute, Suarez won a corner kick, and was marked by United defender Evra during the resulting set piece. It was then that the players became involved in a heated exchange, in which Evra would later claim he was racially abused by Suarez. Though Suarez would later insist upon his innocence an FA panel would later conclude that Suarez was indeed guilty, and charged the player with an eight-match ban and a £40,000 fine. Throughout the ordeal both Liverpool and then-manager Kenny Dalglish unerringly supported the player, the club issuing a statement which noted that “It is our strongly held conviction that the Football Association and the panel it selected constructed a highly subjective case against Luis Suarez based on an accusation that was ­ ultimately unsubstantiated.”
Though Suarez would later return to football on February 6, 2012, it would not be long until the troubled genius would again attract the ire of the footballing world when he bit the arm of Branislav Ivanovic during a match against Chelsea on April 21, 2013. The event shocked many football fans, and embarrassed Liverpool. Liverpool subsequently fined Suarez, and the FA would hand him a ten-match ban for violent conduct.

“El Pistolero” would ultimately rebuild some of his reputation over the course of the 2013-14 season behind a stunning footballing campaign. Going into the summer, few observers could say with certainty if Suarez would remain a Liverpool player for the following season. Perhaps inevitably, however, Suarez would hammer the final nail in his Liverpool coffin during the 2014 World Cup when he bit Gieorgia Chiellini on the shoulder during Uruguay’s group match against Italy for which the player was banned from football for an incredible four months. When Barcelona approached Liverpool in the following weeks to buy Suarez, then, the club made no protests, and allowed the player to leave when the Catalonian club met the player’s buyout clause with a £75m bid.

Reflections on the Uruguayan Magician

Much has been written about Luis Suarez. He has been rightfully labelled a genius and a lunatic. From a historical perspective, however, it is important to note that many noteworthy figures have borne both of these monikers, and it is impossible to discuss Suarez without acknowledging both sides of his personality. While fans of other teams may dwell on his controversies, Liverpool supporters will forever remember the magic which he produced on a near-weekly basis in the club’s famous red tops (as well as its less famous purple iterations).

lfc-booksAs Mr. Kay noted, Suarez’s time at Anfield undoubtedly had its rough patches, but those rough patches were punctuated by some unforgettable times, not least of which being the most unlikely of title challenges in 2014. Watching Suarez was a joy to behold for many a Kopite, and we will all do well to remember our buck-toothed wizard’s contribution to forcing our club back into the Champions League position which it so richly deserves. It is hard to see Luis leave, not least because of his heartfelt messages to Reds worldwide, but the time was right for Suarez, as well as the controversy which that inevitably follows him, to depart Anfield. Armed with the £75m war chest which Suarez’s departure earned for Liverpool, it is now down to Brendan Rodgers and the transfer committee to build on the team which took 2nd place in the Premier League’s 2013-14 season.

Building Towards a Suarez-less Future

Building Towards a Suarez-less Future

It will be impossible for Liverpool Football Club to replace Luis Suarez. With the exception of individuals like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and possibly Zlatan Ibrahimovic, no player on earth can do what Suarez can. That said, while Liverpool cannot directly replace Suarez, it can build a better-rounded and balanced team with the money which his sale provides. While the likely purchases of players like Lazar Markovic and Divock Origi suggest Liverpool is building for its future, other purchases, such as Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert, confirm that the club also desires success in the short term. Though it is unlikely that these players will contribute over 30 goals between them next season, a more realistic goal for LFC next season will be to prevent a higher number of goals than it did last season, when the team conceded 64 goals and won just four matches when scoring two or fewer goals. Consequently, Liverpool should continue to sign players who improve its defense such as Alberto Moreno, Serge Aurier, and a new center back (this writer is not a big fan of Dejan Lovren). If the club can do that, it can hope to qualify for the Champions League for a second consecutive season, and perhaps yet again challenge for the elusive Premier League title. Until then, Liverpool supporters will do well to remember that players are temporary, and the club is permanent. With Brendan Rodgers at the helm, Reds can continue to dream, even without Luis Suarez.

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About The Author

Alex Beck

is an American student at the University of Wisconsin, studying political science and history. Though he has only followed Liverpool since the 2011 season, he has become a die-hard fan of the Reds. He has a penchant for scouting reports, and loves all things Kolo Toure. He hopes to one day have hair as good as Jordan Henderson.

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