When a man can go from being in a wheelchair to a World Cup match-winner in the space of a month, a fair degree of focus is to be expected. But when that man is Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez, that intense focus fast becomes raucous hyperbole.
Typically, it's the English media that indulge in immersive coverage of the Liverpool forward, but the Spanish media have decided to join the party after Suarez’s match-winning performance against England, linking the player with a move away from the Premier League.
According to Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo (h/t 101 Great Goals), the 27-year-old has said “yes” on a move to Barcelona, paving the way for a deal that will be worth €85 million, with Alexis Sanchez making the switch to Merseyside.
The paper claims that “Luis Suarez has decided to leave Liverpool and the Premier League this summer” and splashed the word “Si” on their front page, as noted here by the 101 Great Goals Twitter account:
Other reports from Spain have also suggested that Suarez is keen on a move to the Camp Nou, as noted here by Tancredi Palmeri of beIN Sports:
Suarez has confessed to close friends that he wants to leave Liverpool according to opening headline of tomorrow catalan paper Sport— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) June 22, 2014
After a season in which Suarez picked up a plethora of individual accolades for his heroics with Liverpool, his decisive contribution against England underpinned his current standing as one of the world’s best footballers.
He was clearly short of his energetic best against the Three Lions, but he struck twice to break English hearts and give Uruguay a great chance of making it to the last-16 of the tournament.
Naturally, the Reds will be keen to keep hold of their star centre-forward, and recent reports in the local press suggest they’re confident they will do so.
Despite the extravagant display from Mundo Deportivo, James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo claims that Liverpool are “not concerned” by interest from the Spanish giants and that there has been “no approach” from either club.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers also expects Suarez to be at the club next season, and he had this to say when questioned on the player’s future last month, per Pearce's article:
I know Luis is very happy here. He has turned a corner in terms of how he's perceived in England. Of course in football you can't promise anything but I am confident Luis will be a big part of the future here.
The Champions League was what we were all fighting for. It's a wonderful platform for all the players and that opportunity is there now.
However, Pearce does state there is a release clause in Suarez’s contract—which was extended last December—although the exact details of that figure remain undisclosed.
That will be a concern to the supporters who watched the former Ajax man terrorise Premier League defences on his way to 31 goals last season, per WhoScored.com.
Suarez was exhilarating to watch throughout the entirety of the last campaign and, while he may not be the most popular figure with opposition supporters, the Premier League would be indisputably worse off without his dazzling performances.
Suarez’s showings last season took Liverpool to second place in the Premier League and the brink of glory.
Looking ahead, if Rodgers is hoping to construct a side that can challenge for those kind of honours on a regular basis, there are few players better to build a team around than the Uruguayan, an opinion that looks to be shared by Barcelona.
Luis Enrique will take the reins at the Camp Nou for the 2014-15 campaign after last season yielded no silverware for the Catalans. They’re set to embark on something of a new era, with longstanding figures like Carles Puyol and Cesc Fabregas having already left the club, while Sanchez and Xavi Hernandez look increasingly likely to follow suit, per Wayne Veysey and Pilar Suarez on Goal.com.
If they were to activate Suarez’s release clause, the prospect of the Uruguayan lining up at the Camp Nou—while undoubtedly a tortuous prospect for Reds supporters—is an unavoidably tantalising one.
An attacking triumvirate of Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar would make for some sensational viewing, with Suarez’s aggressive and direct playing style giving the Blaugrana a refreshed attacking edge.
Should Suarez make the move to Barcelona?
The lure of Spain would understandably be a tempting one, but Suarez should think twice before walking out on Liverpool, if that is indeed his intention. In the past he has outwardly expressed his desire to play Champions League football, per Nick Lustig of the Daily Star, and the Anfield outfit have improved markedly to match his ambitions.
The club’s hierarchy have also maintained an unshakeable support for the player despite a host of controversies throughout his three-and-a-half years on Merseyside, while the Liverpool faithful have been nothing but magnanimous in their affection for the forward.
Liverpool will surely do all they can to hang on to their prized asset, meaning Barcelona would have to stump up the player’s release clause if they were to bring him to the Camp Nou. But Suarez should consider what’s gone before as he plots his future.
The Reds have facilitated his development from an undoubtedly talented but capricious and occasionally unhinged striker to one of the planet’s premier players; it’d be encouraging if Suarez gave a little back with a show of sustained loyalty.