Luis Suarez – From the sublime to the ridiculous

Luis Suarez and controversy seem to go hand in hand. For every goal he scores or sublime piece of skill he executes, discussion will often follow, frequently for the wrong reasons.

Luis Suarez and controversy seem to go hand in hand. For every goal he scores or sublime piece of skill he executes, discussion will often follow, frequently for the wrong reasons. There is no doubting the Uruguayan’s talent, but his temperament is regularly called into question and it remains to be seen whether he encompasses the discipline required to keep him in the headlines for all the right reasons.

While Suarez had a proven track record in the Dutch League, where he had scored 35 goals in 33 league appearances for Ajax in the 2009-2010 season, to those who did not follow the Eredivisie (Dutch Premier League) he was an unknown quantity. The World Cup in South Africa provided a platform for Suarez to showcase his undeniable talents on the global stage. Suarez entered the tournament as a potential player to watch, and by the end had arguably been watched more closely than any other player in the event. 

Suarez starred in all of his country’s outings in South Africa and finished the tournament with three goals and two ‘man of the match’ awards. Yet it was his red card in the quarter-finals that became the talking point of the World Cup. In the dying seconds of extra time, with Uruguay’s game against Ghana delicately poised at 1-1, Suarez was sent off for blocking an otherwise certain goal on the line, with his hands. Asamoah Gyan missed the resulting penalty, which would have seen an African nation in the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time in history. Uruguay then went on to win the ensuing shoot-out 4-2 and to add insult to injury; Suarez was seen joyfully celebrating, not only the victory, but Gyan’s penalty miss, mere minutes after his sending off.

Back home in Uruguay he was viewed as a saviour. To everybody else, especially in Africa he was viewed with disdain and labelled a cheat. Suarez was no stranger to controversy. He picked up regular yellow cards for Ajax and was even suspended for a half-time fight with teammate Albert Luque. He was later described as ‘the cannibal of Ajax’ after the Uruguayan appeared to bite PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal. The incident, which took place a few months after his World Cup controversy and earned him a seven match ban, was another to add to his growing list of indecencies. 

The notorious side to Luis Suarez threatened to prevent him from excelling to the very top of the sport. Up until Uruguay’s match with Ghana, speculation was rife regarding a big money move to several potential big name clubs. Buying Luis Suarez guarantees you a very talented footballer, but it also provides you with a ticking time bomb that could explode at any moment. With a price tag of around £20million Suarez became a risk that few managers were willing to take.

Kenny Dalglish took the risk in January 2011 and Suarez’s short time at Liverpool has already provided fans with a glimpse of what they can expect from the striker. His brace against Stoke in midweek turned the game around for the Reds and his first goal is unquestionably a contender for goal of the season. For all his talent and good work however, notoriety is never too far away. He went down like he had been shot in the recent game away at Everton, which resulted in Jack Rodwell being unfairly sent off. Suarez, who is known to fall down quite easily has developed a reputation as one to watch for an equal mixture of brilliance and unfavourable behaviour.  

The most recent negative talking point took place at Anfield in the 1-1 draw against Manchester United. The match is unlikely to be remembered for anything other than the clash between United defender Patrice Evra and Suarez. The incident resulted in Evra accusing the Liverpool hit man of abusing him racially. Nothing should really shock us with Suarez, but even a man drenched in as much controversy as the Uruguayan, is hard to label as a racist, certainly without any clear-cut evidence.

Suarez has strenuously denied the allegation and Liverpool have been quick to back their player. The manager Kenny Dalglish has even called for Evra to be punished, should the investigation into the claims prove Suarez innocent of the allegations.

Since the World Cup Luis Suarez has been in and out of the headlines. Within the past month we have seen him criticised for his role in the sending off for playacting and praised for his hard working performance in the same game against Everton. We have seen him, arguably, single-handedly keep Liverpool in the Carling Cup against Stoke, while being accused of racially abusing an opponent, against Manchester United.  Add to the mixing pot his World Cup handball and the biting of an opponent in Holland and you have a footballer that could have a newspaper dedicated solely to his movements.

What is clear is that in Luis Suarez, Liverpool have an outstanding talent, a player that could spearhead Liverpool’s quest for glory. What he must do now is let his skill and ability as a footballer make the headlines for ‘man of the match’ performances and winning goals, rather than diving and being labelled a cheat. If he does this then the possibilities for himself and his team are limitless. 

If one thing that is for certain about Luis Suarez, he always gives you something to talk about, from the sublime to the ridiculous.