If you think he's a bad dude because he's twice been suspended for biting an opponent, I won't argue the point. If you despise his habit of diving, I won't hold it against you. And if you think his racial abuse of Patrice Evra was reprehensible, I'm right there with you.
But his desire to leave Liverpool this summer—and the way he's conducted himself in the process—doesn't make him the bad guy. In fact, I would argue it is Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool that have portrayed themselves in a negative light.
Suarez has been pretty honest and upfront in his desire to leave (even if his reasoning has changed from May to August). While his initial desire to leave Liverpool and the Premier League due to the English press was obviously just a way to remain on the good side of Liverpool supporters—and to avoid pushing forth a formal transfer request and losing any loyalty bonuses—his recent comments expressing a desire to leave were easy enough to sympathize with.
At 26 years of age, he wants to play Champions League football, and he's a talented enough player that he should be playing at the top level in Europe.
Oh, and if his assertions are true that there was a gentlemen's agreement to sell him if Liverpool didn't qualify for the Champions League—Brendan Rodgers has publicly denied via The Telegraph such promises were made, but who knows?—then in fact it is Liverpool that is the bad guy here.
What a tangled web Suarez weaves.
Yes, I know he signed a contract with Liverpool, and that contract is no longer up. I know Liverpool have stuck by him through several controversies. I know selling him to Arsenal would make it that much harder for Liverpool to return to the Champions League.
And I know Liverpool supporters think Suarez should express some loyalty to the club.
But footy is not a loyal business. Players are buried down the bench despite sticking with a club, or sold. What happens when a player spends his whole career at one club then loses a step?
He's benched, that's what. Loyalty has its limits. The motto, "It's not personal, it's business" doesn't only apply when the clubs are expressing it. The player's have the right to use it, too.
Rodgers has been very vocal—and somewhat delusional—during this entire saga. He claims, courtesy of Andy Hunter of The Guardian, Liverpool are one of the biggest clubs in the world, and Suarez would be crazy to leave.
That's hard to rectify with the team's lack of Premier League championships in the past 23 seasons, or the fact that the club hasn't finished better than seventh in the past four seasons, missing the Champions League in the last three.
According to ESPN.co.uk, he claims Arsenal lack class. Funny, I thought the Gunners just submitted two transfer bids for a player. Is that now a classless move during the summer transfer period? Is conducting business now a classless endeavor?
And where was Rodgers' loyalty when he took the Reading job in 2009?
On May 14, 2009, Rodgers was the manager of Watford, but was linked to the Reading job. He responded to that speculation by telling Frank Smith of the Watford Observer, "But in this moment, my concentration is fully on Watford and looking forward to next year."
Then, a week before he signed with Reading, he was quoted as saying he was "100 percent committed" to Watford.
So much for that.
The point is, everyone has the right to take their career in the direction they so choose. If one of your friends wanted to jump from one company to another because it would be a step up for their career, would you demonize them?
Of course not.
Suarez—whether you think he's correct or not—thinks a move away from Liverpool, presumably to go to Arsenal, would represent a step up in his career.
That doesn't make him a villain; it makes him an ambitious footballer who is ready for a new challenge.
And remember, Liverpool don't have to sell him. They risk plenty in taking that approach—an unhappy star is never good for anyone—but if they decide to keep him, that's their prerogative. You could certainly sympathize with their utter disdain at the thought of selling him to Arsenal.
Would that make them the villains? No. It would be a pretty dumb business decision—with the money they would receive in his transfer, probably close to £50 million, they could replace him with talented players who actually wanted to be at Liverpool—but it wouldn't be some horrific decision.
Neither is Suarez deciding he wants to leave, and twice coming out and publicly saying so rather than playing games through the media (we're looking at you, Wayne Rooney).
Liverpool want you to think Suarez is the bad guy here, so when they inevitably sell him—and trust me, they will—they can turn to their supporters, throw up their hands and say, "Well, did you really want to keep that traitor? He's someone else's headache now!"
And maybe he is a villain. But if he is, it isn't because he no longer sees a future at Liverpool. Arguing the opposite is homerism at its worst.
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