Editor’s note: The following debate features Nipun Chopra (a Manchester United supporter) and Gabe Smith (a Liverpool fan) discussing the pros and cons of Luis Suarez staying at or leaving Liverpool. Nipun (@nipunchopra7) and Gabe (@smitty46and2) record the Liverpool and United Fans podcast. You can find the podcast online or on iTunes.
Reports are coming in that Barcelona are about to make a bid for Luis Suarez. Should Liverpool sell the Uruguayan striker?
Nipun Chopra (Manchester United fan)
Yes, Liverpool should sell him. And here are my reasons —
First and foremost, as a Manchester United fan, I abhor him. His role in the Patrice Evra racism row and subsequent farcical actions by Liverpool will forever be the number one thing I associate with him. And, as has proven to be the case time and time again, his inability to take any ownership of his actions leaves everyone bewildered and frustrated.
Now that I have covered my dislike for him, let me elucidate more nuanced reasons why Liverpool should sell Suarez:
1. Liverpool are a great club
Liverpool are a club with a fantastic history and a tremendous stature in European football. As long as Luis Suarez continues to be associated with the club, Liverpool will continually experience PR nightmares. Whether it’s racism rows, biting or diving, Liverpool has backed the Uruguayan forward. And, this posturing is unsustainable to their image.
2. He isn’t getting better and never did
In spite of widespread claims that Suarez’ behavior had improved, Suarez’ inability to take blame for his actions was a strong indicator that his underlying issues remained unresolved. Yes, he did not bite anyone last season (and it’s hilarious that that has to be recognized), but in every interview, he continued to deny his diving, continued to blame Patrice Evra for the racism row, and continued to argue that all his issues were a creation of the English press. Even though he has recently apologized for the Chiellini issue, it is quite possible that he is one interview (probably when he is back in Uruguay) away from stating that none of it was his fault. Indeed, the fact that it took him six days to realize that he had bit someone is both humorous and puzzling.
3. Get excellent money for him
Luis Suarez is arguably the best striker in the world. He is currently being tracked by clubs that have shown a propensity to pay ridiculous sums of money for players that have less ability (Bale, Neymar). Therefore, Liverpool should take the money, and reinvest it into expanding their squad with quality players. Certainly, the squad number for Liverpool is not sufficient to challenge for the Premier League and UEFA Champions League. At 27, Suarez will not be demanding the £50 million + transfer fee for too long. Now is the perfect time to sell.
4. The squad can be built around Sturridge, Henderson and Sterling
Once Suarez is sold, there are three English players whom Rodgers can build the squad around. Raheem Sterling has been a revelation under Brendan Rodgers; his ability to play in a variety of positions combined with his pace and improving strength, make him a centerpiece of Rodgers’ plans. In the absence of Suarez, his role would become more important and thereby give him more confidence. Sterling was one of the few English players who came away from the World Cup with any credit.
5. The situation in England is untenable
Suarez’ victim mentality and constant tirades against the English press – who ironically heralded him all of last season – have made him an easy target in England. Opposition fans enjoy denigrating him and rival managers often highlight his diving in post-match conferences.
In conclusion, it is now time for the Uruguayan striker to take his incredible playing ability somewhere else.
Gabe Smith (Liverpool fan)
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This famous line by George Santayana must ring loud and clear for Liverpool Football Club officials this week. For the third time in as many years, Luis Suarez’s behavior on the pitch has dragged Liverpool into yet another controversy and once again the club finds itself evaluating the future of their sublimely talented, but equally volatile striker.
It’s a bit of deja vu for Brendan Rodgers as he again prepares for the first fixture of a new season without Suarez leading the attack. For this reason alone, many have argued, Liverpool should sell their prized asset this transfer window in hopes of finding a more dependable player who won’t miss a quarter of the season due to suspension.
It’s hard to find fault with that logic. History, after all, does not shine favorably on the prospects of Suarez improving in this area of his game. The four month ban from all football related activity handed down by FIFA will see the Uruguayan miss up to 13 games of Liverpool’s upcoming campaign. Add that to the suspensions previously served following the Patrice Evra race row and Branislav Ivanović biting scandals and that total becomes 38 games missed for LFC.
Moreover, it doesn’t appear any action by the club has led to improvement. Prior to the World Cup, there was a belief around Anfield that Luis’ work with psychiatrist Dr. Steve Peters was paying dividends. Many, including myself, saw signs from this past season that suggested he had gained greater control over his reactions on the field. But all that hope was erased in another moment of madness.
Suarez’s past indiscretions are now at the forefront of Liverpool’s transfer decisions. Before the Giorgio Chiellini bite seen around the world, it would have been unfathomable to see Suarez leave Merseyside after the season he had and the club qualifying for Champions League. But now, to keep a player who has shown an inability to stay eligible for an entire season is looking to be a more risky proposition, and if the likes of John W. Henry and Fenway Sports Group never considered selling Suarez before, they’re certainly doing it now.
If Rodgers, Henry and Liverpool CEO Ian Ayre adhered to Santayana’s words, then it should give them some guidance in deciding Suarez’s fate. Yet, Suarez’s troubled history may not be the past they’re most worried about repeating. While Suarez’s indefensible actions can’t be ignored, Liverpool officials and fans alike also remember a past without Suarez.
They remember the 24 years it has been since Liverpool last won the league title and the handful of times over that same stretch that they were even in contention. They can point to the last prolific striker to score 30+ goals in a season and the hole that was left when he left. They can recall the past 5 seasons without Champions League football and what it felt like to be irrelevant in Europe. This is the past Liverpool remembers and they’ll do anything in their power to prevent it repeating.
Those reasons alone lead me to believe Liverpool will not sell Luis Suarez unless a team comes in with a bid that matches the value they’ve set on him. They don’t have to sell and they should not allow a team to leverage this current situation to get a knock down price. Unconfirmed reports are stating Liverpool value Suarez between £70-£80M and some of that may or may not be balanced with a cash + player sale. Unless that valuation is met, I fully expect to see Luis Suarez playing for Liverpool, albeit starting November 1 instead of August 16.