LONDON – It is difficult to decide which to dislike most about Luis Suarez.
The way he racially abused Patrice Evra; how he subsequently refused to shake Evra’s hand; the way he clamped his teeth into two opponents — Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic the latest victim; his habit of falling over with the minimal encouragement to win a penalty and possibly see an opponent sent off; the way he has kicked Liverpool, a club which has stood by him, at times defending the indefensible, throughout his excesses, in the teeth; or the sheer hypocrisy of using the English media he so despises to force a transfer.
This is what the Uruguay international said in January: “I want to say now that, if you want to know what will happen to me if we don’t qualify for the Champions League, then I will say this: I have a contract with Liverpool and I am very happy here. I will stay.”
In April: “I’ll be here next season. I am very happy and want to see out my contract.”
Fast forward to May: “I’m not prepared to continue to put up with the English press. I love Liverpool, but if there is a chance of playing somewhere else . . . I suffered too much as a kid to get where I am to be attacked unfairly by the English press.”
So where does Suarez want to move to?
Arsenal, which is based in London — the home of the national newspapers he is not prepared to put up with.
Suarez, like Wayne Rooney, is reluctant to put in a written transfer request. When a player does that, his contract is not paid up by the selling club which it is if a move is by “mutual consent.”
As Suarez’s existing deal has three years to run, around £18 million is at stake, so under such circumstances instead of officially asking to go a player’s advisers feed the media second-hand quotes about their client’s unhappiness to pressurize a transfer.
The Suarez camp believe his contract has a clause that entitles the striker to a transfer if Liverpool did not qualify for the Champions League. The clause states that if the club does not qualify for the Champions League or if Liverpool receives a bid in excess of £40 million the club will, in “good faith,” discuss it. Which is a long way from allowing Suarez to leave.
In fact, it is a totally worthless and meaningless clause. As one newspaper put it, he is a rebel without a clause.
Arsenal, obviously poorly advised, believed its bid of £40 million and one penny would be enough to secure the transfer, but it was wrong. Suarez wants to join a club in the Champions League, though Arsenal must play a qualifying tie to reach the group stage.
Suarez claimed Brendan Rodgers made a verbal promise he could go if Liverpool did not qualify for the Champions League, which the manager denies.
Who do we believe?
The question does not need an answer.
What is not in dispute is that Suarez is a huge talent. He scored 30 goals for Liverpool last season, but whether he stays or goes Suarez cannot play domestic football until October when his ban for biting Ivanovic ends.
Liverpool has insisted Suarez is not for sale, though it also knows that keeping the player will affect team spirit, a situation that can only overshadow the club’s season.
On Thursday, Suarez was made to train alone in the wake of his attack on Rodgers, but despite its honorable stance Liverpool also knows that realistically it cannot retain the services of such a divisive player who cannot ever pull on the famous red jersey again.
So what next?
Liverpool should insist Suarez, who obviously wants to leave Liverpool, puts in a written transfer request, thus forfeiting the remainder of his Anfield contract.
You want a transfer?
OK, put it in writing.
Liverpool should also tell Arsenal that a striker who, since joining it from Ajax in January 2011 for £22.7 million and has scored 51 goals in 96 appearances, is worth at least £50 million. And one penny.
Suarez is a diver who has twice bitten opponents, racially abused another, a player who has shown greed, disloyalty, hypocrisy, selfishness and has called his manager a liar.
None of these qualities fit in the grand tradition of Arsenal, but he scores lot of goals so that’s all right then.
THE TRANSFER WINDOW closes on Sept. 2 when English football will heave a collective sigh of relief after a summer of protracted transfers that have reached new heights (maybe depths) of boredom.
While Wayne Rooney has been silent, his camp has told football writers their client’s feelings on a regular basis, which range from hurt to unsettled because, it seems, despite earning £250,000 a week, he is unhappy not playing in his favored position and is no longer the star attraction at Manchester United since Robin van Persie’s arrival.
United, which has turned down two bids from Chelsea, insist Rooney is not for sale.
Barcelona said the same about Cesc Fabregas, but this didn’t stop the English champion from chasing a midfielder who has repeatedly said he does not want to leave the Catalans. It was a wild goose chase and United was unwise to even put the former Arsenal captain on its wish list.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, is pursuing Tottenham’s Gareth Bale for what would be a world record fee of £100 million and again, no quotes from the player in the silent summer. The Wales international wants to join Real, but like Luis Suarez and Rooney, he has stopped short of putting in a transfer request.
The press are doing this for him instead.
Christopher Davies was a longtime Premier League correspondent for the London Daily Telegraph.