It’s been a while since I flogged this horse, but it bears another visit. We simply can’t afford — literally and figuratively — to sign Suarez.
Depending on who you ask, we have somewhere between 70m and 100m to spend on transfers this year, and we apparently feel some pressure to make a statement through a dramatic signing or two.
Now, I don’t know how you may think, but the only statements I care to make occur closer to the end of a season, not before the season itself. I’m referring to silverware, by the way. Yes, I know that high-profile signings can send a signal of intent and all of that, but I’m still not sold on the idea that signing Suarez will both send that signal of intent and lead to silverware.
Sure, throwing 40m (if not more) at the Uruguayan, who has a remarkable proclivity for courting controversy and biting, would signal that we’re serious about contending in this, that, or the other campaign.
However, consider this: he’s already guaranteed to miss nearly 16% of the upcoming Premier League season, and that’s without considering any future offences against common decency.
I found myself wishing we still lived in the 1950s or thereabouts, when we were completely, blissfully ignorant of an athlete’s indiscretions. Not a family man? Snorting cocaine? Using PEDs? We’d hear of none of these issues.
Suarez, however, is an entirely different beast, as all (?) of his indiscretions (man, is that ever euphemistic) have occurred on the pitch. Diving. Stomping. Biting. Hand-balling. Racism-ing.
I’ll grant that he can score goals. However, he has yet to prove that he can deliver victories. It’s one thing to score 23 league goals; it’s quite another to actually carry a team.
According to some reports, Liverpool would have finished exactly where they did with or without Suarez: 7th. Despite accounting for nearly 38% of his club’s goals, he’s only “earned” about 18% of Liverpool’s points. There’s a bit of a “me-first” mentality at work here, through which Suarez is more than willing to score goals, but his ability to actually carry a team to victory remains to be seen.
We already know he’s going to miss the first six Premier League games. On paper, these are already eminently winnable matches, which would make his absence from the squad all the more vital.
Put simply, we should be able to use these matches to help new additions get comfortable because the stakes are lower than they might be if we were facing the Manchester clubs or Chelsea. Suarez’s absence, therefore, prevents him from getting to know his new teammates in real time, thereby delaying a smooth transition.
All of this is predicated, by the way, on the notion that (a) he might somehow learn to completely change his behaviour, or (b) Arsene can somehow corral him. I don’t really see either one happening.
Instead, I see a man who signs a record-breaking contract and thinks to himself, “see? I was right. I was persecuted unfairly by the media. Nothing I have done or will do is actually wrong if a club like Arsenal is willing to spend on me as they have spent”. The man would come in vindicated and emboldened, and I fear that he would therefore go on to commit some other morally indefensible act. In fact, I all but guarantee he will, wherever he ends up.
If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is, in all likelihood, a duck.
We’ve seen enough from Suarez to this point to make some similarly accurate predictions. He’ll probably go on to score 20 league goals, (but Walcott, Giroud, Cazorla, and Podolski may be stifled), but he’ll almost certainly do something head-slappingly stupid that will cost us progress in a league cup, FA Cup, Champions League, or Prem League championship.
Despite his inarguable talent, this is not a price I’m willing to pay. He’s not worth it. Literally and figuratively.