Mindfart: See Ya Later, Alligator!
Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz is wheeled through Barcelona airport. His documentation shows he is rabies free, but for the safety of the immigration officials, he is restrained and muzzled. His dream has been finally been realised and at 28, the prime of his professional life, he is now playing for arguably the greatest team in the world. How he will fit on a pitch already filled with Messi and Neymar, is anyone’s guess; and the El Clasico against Real Madrid just got £75M more star studded.
No one can blame him for engineering his career to this point; it was always his dream; his final destination, and from the humblest of origins he has arrived. The manner in which he got here is surrounded in controversy and leaves him with little personal honour intact, but here he is nonetheless.
The surprising result of this whole situation is that Liverpool Football Club have actually come out of this very well indeed (I speak as a Liverpool fan). Let’s face it, he was always going to go to Spain at some point. No question about it. Every summer, the whole transfer period was going to be spent in turmoil, questioning, “Should I stay or should I go now?” Then one summer, at the last minute he would go (a la Torres) and leave us in the lurch. We would then go out and panic buy the leftovers from the transfer period for a hugely inflated price, (a la Andy Carroll).
He could and should have left last year, but we got 31 goals, within 2 points of the Premiership title, and most importantly a guaranteed Champions league spot out of him first.
His World Cup antics saved everybody all the hassle. If I didn’t know better, I’d think his agent ordered him to munch down on Giorgio Chiellini to make his position at Liverpool untenable and fast track the whole process of a £75M sale with all the accompanying agent’s fees and increased player salary.
Liverpool have managed to offload him on their terms, and as the pathological masticator attacked his victim while wearing the blue and white of Uruguay, they can cash in their nugget with their reputation untarnished. They now have the cash and the incentive of guaranteed Champions League to attract world class players to the squad, although Alexis Sanchez’s decision to move to Arsenal over Anfield shows they won’t get it all their own way. Nevertheless, an approach from Liverpool is vastly more attractive today than it was 12 months ago.
The big challenge for Liverpool now is to ensure the massive windfall is spent wisely and a team that was built around Suarez is reorganised to win games without a superstar centrepiece. There is going to be a lot of pressure on Sturridge, but he seems to thrive on being the ‘main man’. The problem is what happens when he goes through a barren spell (which he will) or gets injured or banned. We currently have no one to fill his boots. Sterling, Coutinho, and (apparently) this new Serbian Markovic are all great attacking footballers, but not prolific goal scorers. Lambert (who I absolutely love for being the most thoroughly decent human being playing professional football) is a good all round centre forward, but not a 30 goal a season player, despite being one of the best penalty takers around.
Liverpool have an opportunity to learn from the mistakes that Spurs made last year after the Bale sale. We must remember that despite our last fantastic season where we came oh so close, I can only credit Rodgers with two successful transfers since he was hired in June 2012: Sturridge (£12M) and Coutinho (£8M). Both fantastic players and both bought at a third of the price he could sell them for now. The jury is still out on Mignolet, but Allen, Aspas, Alberto, Assaidi, Borini, Cissokho, Ilori, Moses, Sakho, Sahin, Teixeira, Toure, Yesil?
All either complete flops, or bought and immediately loaned out (players for the future?), or old men brought in to cover glaring gaps, or hugely disappointing players considering the fanfare with which they were unveiled and money spent (£33M on Allen and Sakho alone). Thats a 1 in 8 success rate. He’s going to have to do a lot better this year without the Very Hungry Uruguayan Caterpillar to eat us out of mid table mediocrity in 2014-15.
Good bye Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz. A finer footballer, it’ll be hard to find, but he is also a deeply disturbed individual and an incredibly disruptive influence on a team. In the three and half years years he was employed by Liverpool he missed, or rather would have missed nearly an entire season through suspension.
In an age where Premiership teams are global brands, image is hugely important and Luis Suarez was a one man reputation wrecking ball. An embarrassment to himself, his team and his country.
He should be standing astride a pedestal as a shining example of how dreams can come true; of how hard work and talent can raise those with next to nothing to aspire to and achieve greatness, even if that is greatness is ultimately something as useless to the human race as kicking a ball into a net.