Why Luis Suarez's Suspension Will End His Run with Liverpool
It was only a matter of time before a suspension was handed down from the FA following Suarez's bite on the arm of Branislav Ivanovic. As the BBC reported, the suspension will be for 10 matches:
Liverpool footballer Luis Suarez banned for 10 matches by England's Football Association for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) April 24, 2013
Many Liverpool supporters point to the fact that Jermain Defoe wasn't banned after biting Javier Mascherano back in 2006. Then there are the past acts of violence that earned players lesser suspensions. They'll argue that suspending Suarez is just targeting the club and its foreign star unfairly.
They're also wrong.
Unfortunately for the Reds, the FA had no choice but to hit Suarez with a lengthy ban. This isn't his first time biting another player, and there was the eight-match suspension he received for racially abusing Patrice Evra. The most recent punishment meted out to Suarez needed to reflect the seriousness of the infraction, plus the fact he's a repeat offender.
Is racially abusing a player bad? Yes. Is attempting a leg-breaking tackle bad? Yes. When it comes to biting a player, though, you're entering a gray area, as Brian Phillips of Grantland accurately points out:
When you bite a dude, you are entering into a zone where maybe you don't get to complain about imperfect precedent once your ban comes down.— Brian Phillips (@runofplay) April 24, 2013
Supporters immediately criticizing the FA need to remember one thing: None of this would have happened if Suarez never bit Ivanovic in the first place or racially abused Patrice Evra, a past history which Surreal Football made light of on Twitter:
Suarez is a ticking time bomb every time he's on the pitch, and because of that, Liverpool need to cash in on him.
Should the Reds put Suarez on the market this summer, there will be a line of clubs interested around the corner. Liverpool can likely demand a fee in the range of £40-50 million, even with the suspension hanging over Suarez. The seven-match ban he was facing in the Eredivisie didn't stop Liverpool from spending £20-plus million on him, and now he's considered one of the best strikers in the world.
That's a hefty chunk of change and more than enough to invest in some new attacking options. John Terry is arguably an equally unlikeable player, but Chelsea can't get that kind of windfall should they choose to sell him.
Liverpool will remain a strong club in Suarez's absence. There are plenty of talented goalscorers who can come in and soften the loss of the Uruguayan.
Who would have thought Michu and Christian Benteke would have the kind of impact they have had on their debut Premier League seasons?
It's realistic to expect Liverpool would be able to find an undervalued striker on the transfer market. He'll lack the talent of Suarez, but he'll still be enough to continue moving the club forward.
Suarez is clearly a world-class striker, but with his immense talent comes his equally immense baggage. Look at how many matches he will have already missed when his most recent suspension ends (h/t SuarezStats):
Luis Suarez has never been red carded as a Liverpool player, yet he will have served 19 games of suspension.— SuárezStats (@SuarezStats) April 24, 2013
The Reds want to challenge for the Champions League next season, but that's going to be much more difficult with Suarez out for the first six games. Given his reputation, the prospect of another meltdown is not a matter of if, but when.
When he's on the pitch, Suarez is unstoppable, but his indiscretions have begun to hurt the club too much.
Aside from the on-pitch production, there's the possible commercial hit, as The Guardian's Owen Wilson wrote following Adidas public rebuke of Suarez:
Notoriety is sometimes encouraged by sponsors – see Nike's playful treatment of Eric Cantona's return from his ban after assaulting a Crystal Palace fan – but Suárez seems to have gone well beyond that.
Adidas is no longer Liverpool's kit supplier but its stance is indicative of the likely impact on the player's personal brand and the danger of it having wider implications for Liverpool's commercial strategy.
That could be the most damning aspect of this situation. With the way money is driving the game, Liverpool could be hurting their worldwide brand, thus costing money down the road. Supporters can dismiss these claims, but it's hard to argue that the Evra affair and this recent biting incident has been helpful at all, as Liverpool aims to increase its marketing possibilities.
It's time Liverpool moved on from Suarez and rid itself of the constant headaches he provides.
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