With plenty of speculation already circulating about the future of Luis Suarez, the forward’s bite on Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic on Sunday has led to suggestions that Liverpool could cash in on their controversial star this summer.
Suarez has already been fined by Liverpool, while manager Brendan Rodgers has condemned the Uruguayan’s actions.
“Having reviewed the video footage and spoken to Luis, his behavior is unacceptable and I have made him aware of this,” he said in a statement on the club’s official Web site.
Former Liverpool player and manager Graeme Souness is among those in the game calling for the Reds to sell Suarez, while the Daily Mirror claims that managing director Ian Ayre has cancelled a trip to Asia to deal with the matter and could decide to dispense with the Uruguayan.
Ayre, though, denied that the bite will have any impact on Suarez’s future.
“Not at all,” he said in an interview on Liverpool’s Web site. “It affects his future in the sense that we have to work with him on his discipline -- but Luis is a very important player to the club. He's a very popular player with his teammates. “
It is not the first time that Suarez has embroiled the club in controversy, with the player having been banned for eight matches last season after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.
His ability cannot be called into question, however, and the 26-year-old leads the Premier League scoring charts with 23 goals to his name so far this campaign.
Such are his talents that, with Liverpool again failing to qualify for the Champions League for next season, there have also been plenty of stories that Suarez could seek a move to one of Europe’s giants in the summer transfer window.
Juventus were strongly linked with a move last summer and, despite the signing of Fernando Llorente, would surely still be attracted to a player of Suarez’s ability to help take the club back to challenging for Champions League glory.
Earlier this month, Italian publication TuttoSport claimed that the Italian champions were set to launch a bid for Suarez at the end of the season.
The other club strongly linked to Suarez’s signature is Bayern Munich. From next season the recently-crowned Bundesliga champions will be coached by Pep Guardiola and it just so happens that the Spaniard’s brother Pere is also Suarez’s agent, which has predictably increased speculation.
Last month the Daily Mail reported that Juventus believe that Bayern are in pole position to get a deal done for the former Ajax star in the summer. The Mail also stated that Pep Guardiola’s former club, Barcelona, were also interested.
Recent weeks have exposed an unhealthy dependence at Camp Nou on Lionel Messi and another world-class forward could provide an additional attacking threat. Barcelona have been strongly linked with Brazilian star Neymar, but if they are unable to persuade him to sign this summer then Suarez could well be an option.
The Daily Express recently reported on stories from Spain that Barcelona’s rivals Real Madrid were also monitoring Suarez, with their striker Gonzalo Higuain potentially moving in the other direction.
Any interested club will likely be perturbed by Suarez’s latest controversial incident, but, such is the world of soccer, that they may also think it provides the opportunity to get the player at a knockdown price.
Liverpool claim that their stance is unchanged and that Suarez remains an integral part of the club.
“He's a fantastic player, top scorer and everything we'd want in a striker, so there's no change there,” Ayre explained. “This is more about getting him back on the right track and it's largely down to Brendan [Rodgers] now to work with him on that side of his character.”