Luis Suarez’s transfer from Liverpool to Barcelona is complete as the Premier League club has agreed to sell the Uruguayan striker to the Spanish giants for £63.4-£75million, depending on whether you believe sources close to Barcelona or Liverpool.
Now that the 27-year-old’s move to La Liga is history, I’m wondering how he will be remembered by the faithful supporters of the Anfield club?
Just to get this out of the way, I am a Manchester United supporter. Two of my favorite players of all time are Roy Keane and Eric Cantona. Both of these players were without question one of the greats at each of their respective positions. But neither were choir boys.
Roy Keane still hold the record for the most red cards in the history of English football, thirteen.
His most notable on-the-field incident being the knee-high challenge on Manchester City’s Alf-Inge Haaland that could have ended the Norwegian’s career (a tackle that Keane later confessed was premeditated).
While Eric Cantona, for all his footballing genius and goodwill around the world, will always be remembered for his 1995 kung-fu kick on Crystal Palace supporter Matthew Simmons, that led to a nine-month suspension from the club; he was also sentenced to two weeks in prison, which was later reduced to 120 hours of community service.
With that said, both players were tremendous on-the-field servants while at Manchester United and are still universally admired by the club’s supporters.
Keane had a falling out with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and ended his career at Celtic. Despite the behind the scenes issues between the manager and the player, Manchester United still honored Keane with a testimonial match against his new Scottish club in May 2006.
Cantona retired from football at the age of 30 in 1997. Although this announcement surprised Manchester United supporters, the Frenchman called an end to his career after contributing to the team’s fourth championship in five years. Although his name had been linked with possible moves away from the club, Cantona held to his word that he would retire from football as a Manchester United player. “I always planned to retire when I was at the top and at Manchester United I have reached the pinnacle of my career,” Cantona said.
To this day, both players will hear their names being serenaded around the stands at Old Trafford.
Another name still heard being sung around Premier League grounds by United supporters is Cristiano Ronaldo’s.
Of course, Ronaldo never had the on-the-field issues of Keane and Cantona. But the Portuguese forward was constantly being linked with a move to Real Madrid over his final two seasons and his imminent departure was a constant source of stress amongst the club’s supporters.
Despite his desire to leave the club, United fans still hold the player close to their hearts and treat him as if he’s still a member of the club.
But I wonder if Liverpool supporters will do the same for Luis Suarez?
Keane and Cantona brought some “embarrassment” to the club with their actions. But they won and their loyalty to the club was never questioned.
Ronaldo pushed for an exit to Real Madrid. But he also led United to Premier League titles, European glory and won the Ballon d’Or during his time at Old Trafford.
All three players still speak glowingly of their time with the club (although Keane has never held back on his comments regarding his personal relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson).
Last season, Luis Suarez led Liverpool back into European competition and had them flirting with their first league title since 1990. And putting all bias aside, I can say that I am a fan of Luis Suarez as a footballer. He is one of the best players I have ever seen at his position.
But it seemed, ever since his arrival, that Suarez was looking to leave the club for greener (Spanish) pastures. At one point it can be argued that the player and his agent were trying to engineer a move to one of Liverpool’s Premier League rivals, Arsenal.
The player just never seemed settled at the club and his “happiness” was a constant source of worry for Liverpool supporters.
And his on-the-field actions were a source of global embarrassment for the club.
While at Liverpool, Suarez was accused of racially abusing Patrice Evra and suspended for eight matches. He was handed another one-match ban for making an offensive hand gesture towards Fulham supporters, then refused to shake Patrice Evra’s hand which sparked more controversy, served a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic and his latest bite at the World Cup will see him serve a four-month ban from football.
Now that the Uruguayan finally has his wish and has moved to the Catalan club, I wonder how he will be remembered by Liverpool fans?
Will the “Suarez chants” still be sung around the stands at Anfield and at various Premier League grounds by Liverpool supporters in the years to come? The same way that Cantona and Ronaldo’s names are with Manchester United supporters?
Or will Liverpool fans choose to move on and focus on the players who remain at the club?