No Liverpool fan – well, very few anyway – will want acknowledge the possibility, but it may be the case that come the kick-off to next season, Luis Suarez may no longer be a Reds' player. It would be a particularly galling scenario – a kick in the teeth, if you would – for a club that went the extra mile, and then some, to protect the player following a couple of of fairly major indiscretions, but that’s football I guess. Suarez won’t be the first player to bite the hand that feeds, and sadly he’s unlikely to be the last.
The irony of course is that the player is really settled at the club, and feels that he has been well-supported not only by Liverpool, but also the fans as well. It’s an undeniable point, with the club prepared to risk their reputation to save their player. There is however the nagging doubt that the ability of the club to reach the level that he aspires to be playing at, within a reasonable timescale, just may not be there. For every top player, and whatever you think of his personality, Suarez is certainly that, there is a requirement for his club to be competing in the elite competition – the Champions' League. Should Liverpool have qualified this season, there would not be an issue. Sadly they didn’t, and the case for them doing so next season is hardly compelling. And there’s the rub.
With Europe’s big clubs patently aware of the talent that Suarez has, and the absence of top notch football, approaches are almost inevitable. As is often the way these days however, this may not initially come via an official approach, but a leaked press comment, an article from a favoured journo, or a chain of whispers that end up as a seductive message in the player’s ear. Either way, rest assured the word will get through that there are options.
Now Liverpool will certainly ‘circle the wagons’ and insist that there is no prospect of a sale, but should Suarez decide to go, entreaties to stay and reciprocate the loyalty shown to the player will probably fall on deaf ears. They’ll be acutely aware that should he leave, not only will the squad be diminished, it will also send out all the wrong signals for a club trying to rebuild their prestige and standing.
It should be noted that at no stage have I said here that Suarez will leave, just that Liverpool should be aware that there’ll be a number of suitors out there trying to persuade the player to leave England and join them instead. With family connections in Spain, Real Madrid would be a massive draw, but Juventus and the Milan clubs in Italy would also be interested, and should the player offer even the slightest encouragement, a feeding frenzy could develop rapidly.
It’s a sad reflection on modern day football that anyone reading this would probably not be surprised to consider that a player, so staunchly and loyally supported by his club, could turn his back on such employers. This is the way of the world within the game at the moment however. It would strike a huge blow for club loyalty should Suarez decide to ignore all the offers open and choose to stay at Liverpool, but it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise in the world if he doesn’t.