It's Time for Liverpool to Say Goodbye to Luis Suarez and All His Controversy

Neri Stein@neristeinFeatured ColumnistApril 21, 2013

Luis Suarez bit Branislav Ivanovic during Chelsea's visit to Anfield on Sunday. He bit him. 

Suarez also had an assist, gave away a penalty and scored the equalizing goal seven minutes into stoppage time, but none of that is really important.

Suarez and Ivanovic had been tussling all afternoon and it was no different than your typical forward/centre-back battle for much of it. Then the Liverpool forward took it to a whole new level. 

Well, actually, it's not new for him. 

Back in November 2010, just a few months before Suarez came to Anfield, he was suspended for biting PSV's Otman Bakkal while playing for Ajax. But apparently, his seven-game ban didn't teach him anything. 

Pictures and videos were pretty clear in showing the Uruguayan lightning rod for controversy taking a little more than a nibble at Ivanovic's arm, and it's almost certain the FA will take serious action against him.

(Sidenote: The official Kevin Friend was right in the middle of it, and it's unbelievable that he didn't see it, but that's an entirely different issue. Back to Suarez.)

Brendan Rodgers shouldn't worry about what the FA is going to do—he has to take action and quickly. 

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Luis Suarez shouldn't play another game for Liverpool this season, which admittedly isn't that big of a deal for the Reds now, and the club should dock his pay as well. What he did was absolutely disgraceful and has no place in football. But that's the easy and obvious part. The difficult question is, what should the Reds do next?

Per the Associated Press after the game:

''I'm sad for what happened this afternoon, I apologize (to) Ivanovic and all football world for my inexcusable behaviour,'' Suarez said on Twitter. ''I'm so sorry about it!!''

Minutes later, Liverpool issued a statement on its website with another apology, along with harshly worded criticism from club officials.

''His behavior is not befitting of any player wearing a Liverpool shirt and Luis is aware that he has let himself and everyone associated with the club down,'' Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre said in the statement. ''We will deal with the matter internally and await any action from the FA.''

Rodgers initially refused to comment on the incident after the game, but joined in the criticism after watching replays from the game.

''Having reviewed the video footage and spoken to Luis, his behavior is unacceptable and I have made him aware of this,'' Rodgers said.

First off, Suarez isn't the worst player to ever play in England (Eric Cantona kicked a fan) or for Liverpool (El Hadji Diouf is a horrible human being). 

So let's not pretend Luis Suarez is the most senseless, awful footballer to ever grace England. But Suarez is in a different age. Social media means the public makes up its mind about a player immediately, and Liverpool can't really afford more bad publicity from Suarez. 

Liverpool already have a few needs in the transfer market this summer, and Suarez is now another issue to sort out. Because of his goal-scoring exploits with Ajax, Suarez was always going to attract attention from top European clubs, and Ajax probably wasn't too sad to see him go so soon after the biting incident. 

Liverpool are in a different situation, though. 

Suarez has been the squad's best player since he arrived at Anfield in January 2011, and many Reds fans will shudder to think where the club would be without their PFA Player of the Year nominee (whom Gareth Bale should probably send a thank-you note to). 

Suarez has had plenty of suitors in recent months, but he and the club have repeatedly said he won't be going anywhere. But this changes everything.

Does Liverpool Football Club, a club with 18 league titles and five European Cups, want this player representing them? A player who seemingly can't go more than a few months without attracting new controversy?

Handballs and dives are typical in football, and all players are guilty of them at some point (some more than others). Racial abuse and biting are a different game entirely. 

The best thing for both sides may be to let the 26-year-old Suarez go. He'll never have a moment's peace in England again, and he wouldn't deserve it anyway. Obviously, losing 30 goals a year isn't ideal for Liverpool—especially these days—but the club always comes before player. 

If Liverpool keep Suarez, it'll all be down to the manager. Brendan Rodgers is anything but a soft manager, and he needs to show it now more than ever. If he thinks he can control Suarez, more power to him, but Rodgers can't afford to spend too much time on it. 

It's not an easy decision because Suarez has helped Liverpool immensely in his two-plus years, but negative attention gets tiring real quick. 

But in the end, it's not about the bad publicity or possible future incidents. It's the fact that while Suarez may be Liverpool's best player, he won't carry the Reds back into the top four all on his own. Rodgers has put in some good pieces around his star Uruguayan striker so far in his first year in charge, and it might be the time to build on them instead. 

Luis Suarez just isn't worth the toothache for Liverpool anymore. 

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