The man who embellishes fouls, flops, complains to refs, chirps racists remarks and laughs at fans has been the most hated man in England this fall. No man in any league has been more talked about over the first two plus months of the year than Luis Suarez. In the past we’ve seen controversial players get blasted on a regular basis from what I consider to be the most reckless and aggressive sports reporters in the world, however, the hatred for the Uruguayan has gotten out of control. The press has almost forgotten how poor Liverpool has been as a result.
Luis came over to England during the January transfer window in 2011 during one of the lowest points in Liverpool’s history. Having just sold star striker Fernando Torres, Liverpool’s $25 million dollar signing of Suarez from Ajax (Netherlands) was hoped to fill the shoes of his departure. At just 24 years of age, Suarez had been nothing short of fantastic on the field. In 2010, he displayed his talents on the world stage complementing World Cup Golden Ball winner Diego Forlan up front for Uruguay while helping lead the surprising squad of the tournament to the semifinals. On a club level, Suarez play for Ajax had helped them win league titles, as he captained and led the team in scoring multiple years. He scored 100 plus goals in all competitions for the club and this mark put him in company with Ajax greats; Johan Cryuff, Marco van Basten and Dennis Bergkamp. All this success at such an early age, coupled with the poor standing of Liverpool, meant there was tons of pressure for Suarez to perform immediately.
Since that time, players have shuffled in and out of the Liverpool lineup at a rapid pace, and the only constant has been Suarez. The tiny Uruguayan’s ability to control the ball in tight spaces, invent majesty out of nothing, and clear intelligence in his off the ball movement, has been nothing short of fantastic. Selfish when he needs to be, yet unselfish when the pass is available, it is safe to say that Liverpool goes as Suarez goes. If they could just put a few more quality bodies around him, the Reds would be fighting for a Champions League spot much as they have for the past 25 years.
When people talk about Suarez it seems no one discusses any of the positives. For instance, just this past weekend, although Suarez tied the game late in the second half against Chelsea, the talk after was about how Suarez was involved in the accidental injuring of John Terry. Rather than highlight his vision, pace, touch or dribble, the English Press constantly chooses to highlight Suarez in a negative light as the Villain to everything wrong with soccer today. The hardnose, blue collar style of football that the English love should make Suarez a fan favorite in the eyes of the British. Suarez has a bulldog like approach when dribbling forward and he is frequently the most grabbed, kicked and provoked man on the pitch. Throughout the game, Luis can be seen elegantly turning past defenders who have no choice but to grab his shirt or kick him down. His game is so far above most of the Premier League that often times his teammates can’t keep up with what he sees (the true sign of a great player on a bad team). The misunderstood striker should be praised for his play not reprimanded for it.
His hand ball on the goal line in the final minute of overtime against Ghana in the quarterfinal of the World Cup was a thing of genius and something every player would agree saved his team from losing that game. The goal of the game is to keep the ball out of the net and ultimately isn’t this what Suarez did? Is that not sacrifice?
When Luis slows down after beating a defender so he can be caught and fouled, is that not a positive play for his team? If he embellishes the foul in hopes to infer to the ref that the defender is being reckless in hopes that that player will draw a card, is that not smart gamesmanship?
Soccer is the world’s game because it is so much more than a sport, it’s an art, and Luis Suarez is one of the worlds finest artists on the field. A man crafted and refined to play the game with South American beauty has been punished and crucified in England for his non-traditional english style. Although his traits as a person don’t come close to classy, as several on field altercations and verbal exchanges haven’t helped contribute to the public perception of him, this controversial player has contributed on over 80% of all his teams goals this season. From a statistical standpoint, this means that without Suarez, Liverpool would be in dead last this season. The world (and more importantly Liverpool fans) must begin to appreciate the man who IS Liverpool at the moment.
For those of you who don’t know Luis Suarez I will leave you with this. A week ago during a match against Newcastle, Liverpool entered the dressing room at halftime down 1-0. In the second half no player was better than Suarez. It seemed no one could take the ball from him. After slipping in teammates on sure fire goals (only to see them miss wide) and dribbling past Newcastle defender Fabricio Coloccini time after time, Suarez eventually tied the game with one of the goals of the season (check it out). It came to no one’s surprise for those watching the game that moments after scoring against Coloccini, the centre back was sent off for a horrific intentioned tackle on Luis. While Luis Suarez lay on the ground a number of fans could be heard screaming racial and mind boggling slurs at the Liverpool star. When he got to his feet he stood up and winked at the fans with a smirk almost saying “keep it coming…I love it”.
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