Who's More in the Wrong: Luis Suarez or Liverpool?
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The ongoing Luis Suarez transfer saga has dragged on all summer, but with Liverpool holding firm throughout it now appears as though the Reds have finally won the day, which is great news for Merseysiders, who were right to adopt such a tough stance all along with their wantaway star.
Back when this seemingly never-ending story first broke on May 31, which now seems a lifetime away, Suarez stunned the club by announcing very publicly that he wanted to quit Anfield due to the constant press intrusion that he and his young family had been forced to endure last season in the wake of the Patrice Evra controversy.
"It's a good moment for a change of environment because of all I've been through in England. I had a hard time, very hard, in the things that have been said are lies. One has limits, and the family also suffers," Suarez told the Daily Mirror.
"They treated me bad, and it would be understandable if one day I go to my club (and the media are waiting) but I cannot walk my baby, the paparazzi are always there.
"My family, my image—that's what matters to me most. It's nothing against Liverpool, on the contrary, I feel very comfortable at the club, but I have a daughter and I do not want to hear bad things about her father.
"If I stay it is because it is a great club, but also in turn I know that it is difficult because of the harassment I get from the press."
OK, so fair enough, the player has been hounded out of England due to the over-the-top harassment he has been received at the hands of the suffocating national press, and, with Spanish giants Real Madrid waiting in the wings, Suarez should be allowed to move to the Santiago Bernabeu.
And quite frankly, if the 26-year-old had joined the world’s biggest football club at that juncture, then not only would everyone have been spared the subsequent endless discussions and column inches devoted to this subject, but also Liverpool fans would have wished Suarez well in his new adventure with los Blancos.
However, there was one small problem, and that was Madrid had no interest in signing the mercurial forward, focussed instead on landing Tottenham Hotspur forward Gareth Bale, which then forced Suarez to change his strategy in order to force through his exit from Anfield.
So now, six weeks later, the Uruguayan announced that he wanted to leave the Reds “to progress my career,” before going on to tell Sky Sports: "I always want to improve. But this club needs to fight to enter the Champions League and, when it doesn't happen, it damages the morale of any player. So I've suffered.
"It is hard to view the Premier League every week with never a chance of winning it.”
Right, so a different explanation from that which he gave in May, although again, an understandable and honest appraisal of his situation on Merseyside, and not one either that any fair-minded Liverpool fan could really disagree with.
Suarez only has a short career at the very highest level, and, aged 26, he did not want to spend the next five years—the remaining length of his contract at Anfield—playing for a mid-table team in the Premier League with absolutely no chance of competing in Europe’s premier club competition as well.
However, with still no sign of an offer arriving from the Spanish capital, Suarez was then forced to change tact once again in a desperate attempt to force through his move from Liverpool, and this is where sympathy for the player’s position started to recede, and quickly.
Suarez now claimed that he had his heart set on a move to Arsenal so as to be able to play in the UEFA Champions League next season, despite the fact that the north London club had still to confirm their place in the competition proper.
"I am 26, I need to be playing in the Champions League. I feel I have done enough to be playing in the Champions League at this stage of my career. Now there is an option for me to do that (at Arsenal) and I want very much to take it," he told the Guardian.
OK, so by the start of August we had come full circle in this compelling drama, with it now becoming abundantly clear to anyone who had been following Suarez’s many public pronouncements on his future with the Reds that you just cannot believe a word the attacker says.
But what of the infamous and much-publicised release clause in the new contract that Suarez signed with the club last August, supposedly allowing the player to join any team that bid over £40 million for his services this summer?
Well, Arsenal did cheekily offer £40m plus £1 for the playmaker on July 23, only for it now to be revealed that such a trigger clause did not oblige Liverpool to sell their star man after all, only to consider such a bid.
And this was also subsequently confirmed by the failure of Suarez to carry out the later threats in his stunning interview with the Guardian to take his matter all the way to the courts and hand in a transfer request.
So from a purely contractual point of view, Liverpool have been proved in the right, with Suarez tied down to Anfield until June 30 2018 and with no recourse to leave the club unless they agree to such a transfer.
However, how about from a moralistic standpoint, especially given the claim by Suarez that part of the reason for him signing his contract extension in the first place was on the specific understanding that he would be allowed to leave the Reds this summer if they had failed to qualify for the Champions League last season?
"Last year I had the opportunity to move to a big European club (Juventus), and I stayed on the understanding that if we failed to qualify for the Champions League the following season I'd be allowed to go," Suarez told the Guardian in his explosive August interview.
"I gave absolutely everything last season, but it was not enough to give us a top-four finish—now all I want is for Liverpool to honour our agreement.
"I spoke with Brendan Rodgers several times and he told me: 'Stay another season, and you have my word if we don't make it then I will personally make sure that you can leave.'"
Well, if the Northern Irishman did make such a promise, then Suarez really does have every right to feel betrayed by the club, although with it being a verbal agreement he unfortunately does not have a leg to stand on when it comes to seeking redress on the matter in the courts.
But this is slippery Suarez we are talking about here remember, the man who will try and say absolutely anything to get his way, as we have seen throughout this ongoing dispute, while Rodgers has also strongly denied he ever made such a promise.
Meanwhile, there is then the utopian view that some have put forward that a club of Liverpool’s size and history really should not be in the business of trying to keep unhappy players against their will, and if a star man really does want to leave and play for another team, then they should allow him to do so and simply try and extract the highest transfer fee possible for his services.
However, I applaud the hard-line stance that Liverpool and principal owner John W. Henry have taken with Suarez this summer, with the American appearing to have brought the whole matter to a shuddering halt when he emphatically told various newspapers earlier this month (via the BBC): "We are not going to sell Luis. It's very important [not to sell to a rival], but especially for Liverpool because we're not in Europe this year."
And that is the crux of this whole issue really—where Suarez ends up at—with the striker claiming in the Guardian this month that: "I'm not going to another club to hurt Liverpool."
But by joining Champions League-chasing rivals Arsenal, that is exactly what the Uruguay international would be doing, a scenario that Henry has been at pains to point out to everyone just would not be allowed to happen under any circumstances.
Who's More in the Wrong: Luis Suarez or Liverpool?
Contrast that tough stance, though, with the one adopted by Arsenal this time last year when manager Arsene Wenger sent his star man, Robin van Persie, on his way to arch-rivals Manchester United with these extraordinary parting words for Sir Alex Ferguson: "You do not realise just how good he is."
Twelve months on, and perhaps the Frenchman is now regretting not copying how rivals Liverpool, United and Spurs have all decided to deal with their wantaway stars this summer by keeping hold of his prolific Dutch striker at the Emirates for one more season.
Which is why the Reds have been in the right in how they have handled their temperamental front man this summer, while Suarez has been in the wrong, and the Reds will be proved so come the end of this campaign.
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