There have been conflicting reports of Suarez stating and denying his statements that he wishes to stay on at Liverpool next season.
While Uruguayan newspaper El Observador has quoted the player, as saying: “For now, because of all the affection of the people, I will be staying”, Kyodo News ran a report of him quoting “I didn’t say that, maybe someone else did and the main thing is that I am here now with the national team.”
Which one of the two is actually true will be known in the days to come. The Suarez transfer saga has gone on for too long, and Liverpool will be keen to resolve the situation quickly.
Suarez had publicly attacked the club last week, when he accused manager Brendan Rodgers of breaking a promise that he would be allowed to leave Liverpool in the summer if the club failed to qualify for Champions League. However, Rodgers has flatly denied that, saying that there was no such agreement in place. Rodgers received public backing from club owner John W. Henry, who insisted that there was no chance of Suarez being sold in the current transfer window.
Suarez earned the wrath of Liverpool fans after the comments he made against the club to the media, and also for his attempts to engineer a move to Real Madrid by issuing a come-and-get-me plea, and to Arsenal by trying to exploit a possible escape clause in his contract, which was later denied by Liverpool as well as PFA.
Banished to train alone due to his poor attitude in the pre-season, Suarez has been offered a way back into the first-team group by Rodgers, who said that he will assess the situation once Suarez returns back to club from international duty.
Even if his comments on wanting to stay on at Liverpool are true, there’s no denying that the player still feels the need to move to a club playing Champions League football, but the options are now quickly running out for him. The last two months have seen plenty of wavering statements from Suarez, who will soon have to realize, if not already, that he needs to be practical about where he will plying his trade in the 2013-14 season.
Liverpool owners have put their credibility at stake by going on record to clearly state that they won’t be selling Suarez to Arsenal, the only club to have made an official bid for him and a club, which they feel are a direct competitor for Liverpool for a top-four spot in the Premier League, which Liverpool are targeting in the upcoming season.
Experts believe that if a club like Real Madrid or Bayern Munich comes in for Suarez with a bid matching Liverpool’s valuation, they will sell the player. However, with Madrid focussing on purchasing Gareth Bale in the transfer window, and Bayern now under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola who won’t feel the need to purchase an extra striker, neither club is likely to make a serious bid for Suarez.
In the possible (and likely) scenario of Suarez of having to stay on at Liverpool, it’ll be imperative for the player to mend his relationship with the club and its fans. He had become a fan favourite after scoring on his debut for the club in February 2011, and ended last season as the club’s top player scoring 30 goals in all competitions. He miffed everyone at the club with his regular courting of Real Madrid, but was given a very warm welcome by the Kop in Steven Gerrard’s testimonial game. However it seemed that he was intent on burning his bridges at the club, when he chose to go public with his desire to join Arsenal. Getting the Gunners to bid the infamous £40,000,001 offer was clearly a poorly advised step by Suarez.
By separating Suarez away from the rest of the team, Liverpool have sent out a strong message to the player that his antics won’t be tolerated at the club, however talented a player he may be. If Suarez was to stay on at Liverpool, his ban in the first 6 matches of the season might prove to be a blessing-in-disguise for the Reds, as it will give them time to let things cool down with the player away from the game for a while, and the team can focus solely on playing football.
Suarez will be aware that with the World Cup following the 2013-14 season, it’s important for him to be playing regularly to ensure a spot in the Uruguay first XI. Also, he’s someone who loves playing football, and won’t want to stay away from the game. Hence, he will realize that if he has to stay at Liverpool, he needs to undo the damage that he’s done with his recent comments to reclaim his spot in the Liverpool first XI.
How can Suarez win back his spot in the Liverpool team? For starters, he will have to follow Rodgers’s advice of apologising for his actions, and show good attitude and intensity in training, before having any hopes of being reunited with the rest of the squad.
With Liverpool likely to play a front three of Iago Aspas, Phillipe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge in the absence of Suarez in the first six games, if the trio manages to impress and Liverpool start the season well, there’s no guarantee that Suarez will be able to walk back straight into the starting XI. As seen in the past, Rodgers will not be a pushover in team matters and will select his playing XI purely on form and merit.
A mixture of good attitude, hard work, and an acceptance of challenge will go a long way in helping Suarez win back the confidence of the manager and the fans, and reclaim his starting XI spot. In their bid to get back to playing Champions League football, Liverpool need to retain their best players and Suarez is most certainly one of them.
If Suarez does go on to help Liverpool to achieve their objective of a top four finish, and maybe some silverware along with it, his behaviour issues, as well as the transfer saga, might well be forgiven, if not forgotten by the Kop faithful.