For a player who nearly hit the 40-goal mark in 54 games during the 2012-13 season for Liverpool and the Uruguayan national squad, Luis Suarez has been the subject of more offseason transfer speculation than anyone would expect.
Anyone that hasn't seen Suarez play this season, that is.
Personal misconduct on the pitch has left Suarez with two suspensions during his time with the Reds this year, and it has also left Liverpool wondering if now is the right time to offload the 26-year-old striker while his value is at its peak.
Suarez decided to drop more than one bombshell on the Liverpool faithful on Wednesday via an interview with Uruguayan radio station Sport 890, going so far as to blame the English media for rumors about his impending transfer. He added that it would be "very difficult to say no to" Real Madrid should the Spanish club come calling with a bid for the striker's services.
First, the quotes about Madrid should have Liverpool fans wondering about Suarez's future with the club. Plus, an even more troubling statement remains—Suarez chose to single out the media about actions that have led to questions about his maturity on the pitch.
The commentary here is simple: Suarez should not use the English media as a cop-out for his place in transfer rumors. In reality, there's only one person to blame for the media attention he has received for his actions this season.
Suarez can find that person by taking a step toward the mirror.
AS.com helped translate the interview into English on Wednesday, and you can find a complete copy of that transcript here. Below is an excerpt from the piece, with an emphasis on how the English media have impacted his decision to consider employment elsewhere moving forward:
I’m happy at Liverpool. I’m happy because of the fans. I made a mistake, I’m human, but they’ve talked about me in ways they shouldn’t have. My family have suffered and things got out of hand. My daughter and my wife have suffered. I’m not prepared to continue to put up with the English press.
I love Liverpool, but if there is a chance of playing somewhere else...I suffered too much as a kid to get where I am to be attacked unfairly by the English press. They haven’t appreciated me as a player, they’ve just judged my attitude.
Here's Suarez's quote about Real Madrid:
The desire to win with the big clubs is always there. I’ve talked to my agent, there’s nothing concrete. To say no to Madrid would always be difficult and more so with the team they have. I have a contract with Liverpool, but it would be very difficult to say no to Real Madrid. There are a lot of rumours in the transfer period, but you never know until firm offers are made.
It's not as if media personnel haven't had plenty to chastise Suarez for over the past two seasons.
He first hit the national scene in late 2011, when Patrice Evra of Manchester United accused Suarez of making racially insensitive remarks to him "at least 10 times".
Suarez was suspended eight matches and fined £40,000 for that gaffe, as reported by The Guardian, and the 26-year-old has been the subject of public ire since the ban came down and people started looking closely at the way he plays the game.
That microscope has not been kind over the past year and a half.
From accusations of diving to his infamous handball incident in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, a closer look at Suarez's game leads to the opinion that he is not the kind of player with the character or maturity to respect the game.
Some of his decisions have been childish—not shaking Evra's hand in a 2012 fixture between United and Liverpool comes to mind—and others have been flat-out stupid.
Falling under that category is the biting incident in a match against Chelsea during the 2012-13 fixture slate. In the box and trying to gain position in front of Branislav Ivanovic, Suarez decided to bite him in the arm rather than battle for a spot in the box in ways that a conventional player would use.
The move earned Suarez a 10-match ban that will carry over into the 2013-14 season, and it has left his future with Liverpool in doubt due to the wild and reckless nature in which he plays the sport while on the pitch.
Wednesday's revelation that the media is to blame for a potential exit is the smokescreen of a lifetime for Suarez. Clearly, he should own up to the fact that his mistakes have led to the English media taking a stern stance towards a player whose talent should place him as one of the Premier League's most popular players.
Instead, we're at a point where Suarez is looking to move away from the EPL and to another country entirely.
As the old saying goes, you get more flies with honey than vinegar.
In the spirit of fairness, I'm sure the hounding press have been rough on Suarez and his family. It's never fun to read your name in the paper or see it on TV in a negative way, especially in the circumstances of racism and poor sportsmanship that have left Suarez in the public eye.
He also mentions in the interview with 890 Sport that he is human and made a mistake—a sentence that usually is a precursor to an apology.
I'm all for second chances—it's one of the things in sports that makes comebacks and success so much sweeter down the line.
But Suarez is past the point where he should be feeding his ego by taking on the victim role as a precursor to his impending exit. No one but No. 7 made insensitive remarks on the pitch, bit an opponent or created an opinion of Suarez that has negative connotations.
As he notes in the interview, nothing is set in stone until the transfer window is over. Suarez is clearly a star who can score goals with the best players in the world, and he's done so at Liverpool enough so that the club will have a difficult decision on its hands with respect to his future.
But his comments on Wednesday sound more like a man headed for a fresh start in a new city than one poised to atone for his aggressions in the final few years of a long contract.
They are also nothing short of comical—it's up to Suarez to change public perception of his play, not the other way around.
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