Disgraced Again, Is Luis Suarez Really Worth All The Trouble?

on April 23 2013 2:15 AM

One thing is for sure, things certainly aren't dull when it comes to following the fortunes of Liverpool's Luis Suarez.

With the Patrice Evra racist incident finally at the back of everyone's mind, Suarez once again stole the headlines on Sunday for all the wrong reasons.

Sunday's incident against Chelsea at first looked relatively innocuous. Suarez and Branislav Ivanovic tangled in the area and both fell to the floor. Ivanovic seemed to be gesturing to the referee that something had been aimed towards him. Suarez, as he normally seems to do, pleaded his innocence and got prepared for a Liverpool corner. It wasn't until the Television replays were aired that we saw the seriousness of just what Suarez had done.

Suarez had appeared to have intently bitten Ivanovic on the arm as both men tussled in the penalty area. As the incident has been magnified in the last 24 hours it has become clear that there is no doubt of Suarez's intent to cause harm from the disgusting act of biting an opponent. The referee obviously didn't see the incident at the time as no action was taken. Luckily for Suarez and Liverpool, as the gifted but troubled striker popped up to score a dramatic 96th minute equalizer in a thrilling 2-2 draw.

After the game, Suarez was vilified by the media and important figures throughout the game. This is not a one-off occurrence for the Uruguay International. He has form for this type of incident during his time at Dutch club Ajax. He was branded a 'Cannibal' by media and fans as he received a 7 game suspension for biting PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal.

There is absolutely no doubting Suarez's ability as a footballer. He is one of the few genuine 'World Class' players plying their trade in the Premiership and on his day is unplayable. He has two great feet, incredible vision, constantly on the move and has a real eye for goal. All of these make him an absolute nightmare for defenders to mark. He is on the shortlist for the PFA Player of the Year award and there is no doubt he has a legitimate claim to the award after a fantastic return of 23 Premier League goals this season.

What is in question is Suarez's character and his temperament. He seems to be a constant magnet for trouble. Whether it be his constant diving, his abuse towards referees or the more serious incidents, he never seems to be out of the headlines. The most serious incident, of course, was the Patrice Evra Racist Abuse charge. Suarez was found guilty of racially abusing the Manchester United player during a heated encounter last season. Liverpool handled the situation terribly, defending Suarez despite all the evidence to his guilt. Suarez eventually received a 9 game ban for the incident and his name was dragged through the mud once again. He has also caused some trouble this season while on International duty in his native Uruguay for elbowing an opponent in another unnecessary off-the-ball incident.

His outstanding play this season has almost made fans forget about the incident, all beside Man United fans of course. His sublime contribution to Liverpool's underachieving season has made fans and critics alike concentrate on Suarez the player again rather then Suarez the 'Racist' or Suarez the 'Cheat'. All that changed with the despicable incident on Sunday.

In fairness to Liverpool, they were quick to condemn the incident. Seemingly aware of their mishandling of the 'Racist Abuse' case, they immediately released a statement saying Suarez would be fined and punished by the club. Suarez also took to his Twitter account to apologize for the incident. He said he had also spoken to Ivanovic and apologized to him personally.

Suarez also stated he had been fined by the club and he has asked for the money to be donated to the Hillsborough Families fund. This could be a P.R move on Suarez's part that could backfire. It's all well and good trying to play the good samaritan now but some may see this as using the tragic events 24 years ago at Hillsborough to give himself some good publicity. If this is the case then this would anger a large majority of Liverpool fans.

So what now for Suarez? Well, he has been charged with violent conduct by the Football Association today and with all his previous misdemeanors he can expect a lengthy ban and perhaps a record fine. The fine will be of no consequence to one of the best paid footballers in the league but the ban will hurt him and Liverpool. Suarez has emerged this season as Liverpool's most important player and a lengthy ban carrying on into the start of next season would hamper them greatly. It would not be surprising to see Suarez receive a ban similar to the one QPR's Joey Barton received on the last day of last years season, which was 12 games.

Some are suggesting that Suarez will now be sold by Liverpool as he comes with too much baggage and can't be relied upon. Liverpool have come out and denied these reports, claiming they are committed to Suarez and will offer him all the help he needs to rectify his problems. It's clear something needs to be done as this is becoming far too much of a distraction, not just to Suarez but to the football club as a whole. Anger Management classes and counseling have been suggested, whether they would help or not is another question entirely.

There's no doubt there would be a host of top European clubs that would be willing to take the gamble on Suarez should he become available. Suarez agent is the brother of soon-to-be Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola and that is a viable option for Suarez given the reported £200 million war chest Guardiola is set to receive to strengthen his side. Bayern can also offer Champions League football to Suarez, something Liverpool look some way off doing at the current time. Whether they would be willing to pay the reported £40 million it would take to lure Suarez away given all his problems is debatable as Suarez would also be looking for wages in the region of £200,000 per week. If he were to leave, he would leave a gaping hole in Liverpool's lineup. There's no telling where Liverpool would be in the current Premier League table had it not been for Suarez's contribution this season.

The F.A also have a dilemma regarding Suarez's situation. There is no question he is in the top 3 in the PFA voting and he has a huge chance of picking up the prize. Do the F.A wait to dish out Suarez's punishment until after the awards have been concluded? This would make the F.A appear weak in many people's eyes as a swift and harsh punishment is what's probably required. If they give out the ban before the ceremony then it could make for a very awkward presentation evening if Suarez does pick up the award.

Regardless of the upcoming punishment for Suarez it appears the striker is at a crossroads in his career. If he continues with this inexcusable behavior then not even the most stoic Liverpool fan would be able to defend him. He is already subject to higher scrutiny from officials because of his controversial behavior and this incident won't help matters in that regard. Maybe the time will come when he feels that a fresh start is needed in a new country. Liverpool will be hoping that this isn't the case. They will want their talisman to lead the line for many years to come and bring the team back to their former glory. They must ensure they do all the right things to keep Suarez happy whilst being mindful that one more incident like this could spell the end for him in English Football.

It's probably going to get worse for Suarez before it gets better, with the media intent on squeezing as many column inches as they can out of the incident that has once again tarnished the name of one of the Premier League's brightest talents.

How Suarez responds will tell us a lot about his willingness to changed. Can Suarez finally see the error of his ways and begin to have a complete change of character?

Liverpool are counting on it.

Dean Jones: Follow me on Twitter @DeanJones_