Luis Suarez at Liverpool – Absolutely Irreplaceable

Blog by: Naveen

Liverpool fans the world over can be forgiven for not harboring great hopes from their side when the new season began. Especially after being treated to a transfer market that seemed determined to prise away their best player to the likes of Real Madrid, at first, and then Arsenal. We are, of course, talking about the man himself, “always-in-the-eye-of-the-storm” Luis Suarez. When he’s not off biting people’s arms or doing whatever it is that amuses a man of his talents, Suarez apparently whiles away his time by enticing the far more glamorous options around.

Mind you, if it wasn’t for a certain Gareth Bale, or a very obdurate Brendan Rogers, we would probably be watching a video of Cristiano Ronaldo tearfully explaining how his new teammate chewed off his diamond-studded earring. And as irresistible as that scenario sounds, the Suarez bashing stops here. Simply because there is no denying the man is a truly amazing talent out on the football pitch, no matter what his other sizable faults may be.

The reader may want to keep in mind that this is an age where technology rules the game – every movement, pass, tackle and tendency is analyzed and stripped to its roots, all with the intention of obtaining the slightest edge over the opposition. The margins between the very best out there are really very small – but the repercussions can be drastic. In such a scenario, once in a while there comes along a player who, in the words of the immensely likable Glen Foy (the Newcastle scout and future agent of protagonist Santiago Munez, from the Goal franchise), “lifts your heart”.

Suarez belongs to this exalted company of truly gifted players. And no one who has seen him instinctively dribble his way past a couple of burly centre-halves (the Premier League has curiously never been in short supply of these daunting men, built like walls) can say it is any other way. The incredible close control, that God-given instinct that almost seems to guide him with every touch of the ball, not to mention the vastly improved finishing that has been evident over the past year or so – all of this makes the Uruguayan an absolute gem.

Add to this the quality that managers so covet, and yet so rarely see, from their more gifted players – heart. It is what separates the very good from the truly great. And Suarez has it in plenty – he is a busy little bee out there, chasing loose balls, hounding the opposition full backs, often instrumental in starting attacks from inside the other half. The reader may think that I am referring to a modern- day Maradona; but while the Uruguayan may not be as sublimely talented as his Argentinian counterpart – he certainly has a similar disregard for sporting conduct. And therein lies the rub.

A startlingly wide array of indiscretions chequers the career of our protagonist – many as bizarre as they are unique. From biting to racial abuse to that fateful moment at the 2010 World Cup that Ghanians will never forgive him for, the man is a poster boy for the other side of what can only tentatively be called as “genius”. But that is what Luis Suarez brings to the table – as every manager who has ever played him knows only too well.

The streets of Montevideo have left an indelible mark on the man – if that is where he learnt all the wily tricks of the trade that keep him amongst the best in the world at what he does, it is also the place that has left in him a street-smart, impulsive and often disrespectful thug who does all he can to win. It is where he gets his “heart” from – and heart, my brothers, is not something that can be taught. Out there on the field where everything is laid bare for all to see, you cannot hide. And for all his faults, Luis Suarez dies for his team every time he puts on the jersey – and you cannot put a price on that.

Mr. Brendan Rodgers, at the very least, knows what he must do. The Kop is filled with a new-found sense of optimism, one that hasn’t been apparent in quite some time – courtesy the fact that Liverpool sit atop the Premier League table after the first three rounds of fixtures. Daniel Sturridge has been in terrific touch – his 5 goals in all competitions, 3 of them coming in the League itself (Liverpool’s only three goals, by the way) certainly making sure that the Uruguayan hasn’t been missed. Shrewd signings in the transfer window, the pick of the bunch being the capture of the hugely impressive Mamadou Sakho (another fiery character), together with the loan deal for Victor Moses and the Premier League experience of Kolo Toure , and Brendan Rodgers looks like a far better manager than any of us ever gave him credit for.

There are realistic hopes that the Reds could challenge for a Champions League spot once again – but Rodgers will know none of that will be possible without a fit and firing Suarez. Playing him in behind Sturridge while keeping Stevie G a lot deeper seems to be the way to go – but whatever Rodgers decides to do, Suarez should be central to Liverpool’s plans. He may just have been the one good thing that came out of “King” Kenny Dalglish’s last Liverpool adventure – but by God, is he worth it all (yes, even including Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing). Simply because he’s one of those select players who can genuinely change the course of a team’s season. So what if Patrice Evra has a lot more to complain about at the end of the season? It just wouldn’t be a Premier League season if the Red Devils and the Scousers weren’t at each other’s throats anyway.

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