Luis Suarez has done some brilliant, brilliant things on the football pitch this season, but they will seemingly be overshadowed by his controversial actions.
Much like his game-winning goal in the FA Cup against Mansfield Town was dominated by discussions of a possible handball, so too will his stellar season in the English Premier League be forgotten by his recent brain-snap decision to bite Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic.
Trailing 2-1 at the time, Suarez appeared to take offense to the Blues defender putting pressure on him in the box and retaliated by biting him in the arm. Ivanovic later complained to the referee about it, and whilst there was no action taken on the day, Suarez is facing action from Liverpool and the Football Association for the unsavory incident.
It was a vile and completely inappropriate thing for a professional footballer to be doing, and Suarez should face a lengthy ban as a result of his actions.
He may well even be sold this summer as a result of the bite.
However, one thing that should be affected more than anything this year is the potential PFA Player of the Year Award that Suarez is in the running for.
Which, given his performances this year, he is completely deserving of.
Suarez has been simply superb for the Reds in terms of on-field production, netting 23 goals and five assists for the Merseyside club. He is the second-highest scorer in the Premier League, the seventh-highest scorer in Europe's major leagues this season and has won a staggering nine man-of-the-match awards as he tried desperately to keep Liverpool in the hunt for European football.
His most recent man-of-the-match performance came against Chelsea—a game that will likely be remembered for the biting incident more than his last-minute equalizer and lovely assist before that.
And that it seems will be the problem with Suarez's claim for the award.
With Suarez, nobody is able to separate the football from the madness. His game against Chelsea will be remembered as much for the bite as it will the goals, and so his performances this season should be approached with a similar rationale—madness amongst the brilliance.
There will be talk about the image that it sets for the league, for the fans and for the young viewers, and whilst I definitely agree with all of that, it's not the issue for me as to why he shouldn't win the award. The issue for me remains that, on the field, we should not separate his antics, such as the weekend's chomp on Ivanovic, from his goal-scoring heroics.
If the biting incident took place off the field, then this would be different.
But it came in the 73rd minute of a televised football game, with the world watching and waiting to see if Suarez could inspire a Merseyside comeback.
And for that, it must be taken into consideration for his award nomination.
The Metro reported this morning that voting on the award closed on the weekend, and that the incident won't be taken into consideration. Votes have reportedly already been cast on the issue—which is another issue in itself given that there's still four weeks to play and plenty at stake—and as a result, Suarez's bite will not factor in to any decision about the award this year.
But I'd be very surprised if this wasn't taken into consideration—much like a top-four winning performance from Eden Hazard or Juan Mata would be taken into consideration, or Robin van Persie's recent title-winning hat-trick against Aston Villa will be taken into consideration.
And once it is considered, it seems incredibly likely that Suarez will end up walking away with the Player of the Year Award from the EPL this season.
He's been brilliant at times—there's no doubting that. But he's also shown some madness, and we can't separate that from whatever else he does on the field.
When you get Suarez, you get the entire package—good, bad and the ugly.
But that doesn't mean you can label everything as one of those categories and simply try to base your opinion on that.
You've got to look at the entire picture and see the entirety of Suarez's season, which, it seems, will show that he isn't the PFA Player of the Year.
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