Following the fall out of the latest Luis Suarez incident, Liverpool are facing having their star striker on the side-lines once more. On Thursday afternoon, FIFA’s disciplinary committee announced that Suarez would be banned for 4 months from all football related activities. Despite the incident taking place whist on international duty with Uruguay, Liverpool are the ones who are really being punished. For the second time, they are facing the prospect of starting their Premier League campaign without the 27-year-old due to a ban from biting an opponent.
His time at the Merseyside club has been littered with controversy. The Fenway Sports Group, the owners of Liverpool, along with the then manager Kenny Dalglish, supported Suarez strongly after a racist incident with Patrice Evra. The manner in which they supported him was widely criticised. John Henry, the principal owner, and Tom Werner, the chairman, felt they put themselves on the line for the Uruguayan. They expected to be repaid for this, and Suarez duly signed a long contract extension.
A few months later and the club were facing another crisis, after their number 7 bit Branislav Ivanovic on the arm. Liverpool imposed their own punishment in the way of a fine for this offence, whilst the Football Association banned him for 10 matches. Despite his employers standing beside him again, Suarez made it public that he wanted to leave for Arsenal. FSG refused to allow this. They were shocked that after all they had done for him, Suarez was keen to turn his back and leave. The owners won, Suarez stayed, and Liverpool had their best season for many years. But now patience has run out.
It is believed that an emergency video conference was held on Wednesday evening, involving Henry, Werner and Brendan Rogers, the Liverpool manager. FSG have a philosophy that the team are the focus, the collective is greater than any one person. It is how they run the Boston Red Sox, the baseball team they own. It is how they did want to run Liverpool, until convinced otherwise. It is this belief which they will now use again in relation to Suarez, as it is expected they will now sell the player.
Reports suggest that Barcelona have tabled a very tempting offer. Alexis Sanchez, the Chilean winger, and Pedro Rodriguez, the Spanish World Cup winner, have been offered along with an estimated £40 million. This would represent a very good deal, should the players agree to the exchange. Both players have Champions League experience which Liverpool will need as they enter the tournament for the first time since 2009. The financial package would also allow the club to pursue other targets. Deals are being worked upon for Xherdan Shaqiri, the Swiss playmaker, and Alberto Moreno, the Sevilla left back, but for both the transfer fee seems too much for Liverpool. Selling Suarez to the Catalan giants would help Rogers significantly strength his squad, and would see Liverpool rid themselves of a talent who is never far from controversy.