Liverpool Football Club is traditionally a great English institution, synonymous with everything positive about the beautiful game in this country. Yet in recent years, the Reds' reputation has suffered dramatically due to the controversial actions of one man: striker Luis Suarez.
There is certainly no doubting the Uruguayan's pedigree on the pitch. With incredible technique and consistency in front of goal, Suarez is one of the Premier League's most irresistible talents. But as has been made uncomfortably evident throughout a series of sorry incidents in recent seasons, there is a far darker side to Suarez that he struggles to contain in the heat of battle.
After being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra during a hotly contested North West derby at Anfield in October 2011, the striker further bemused and disgusted fans and pundits alike by sinking his teeth into Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic during a Premier League fixture on Merseyside in April. This was the second time Suarez had been oddly possessed to bite an opponent, with the first incident occurring during his stint at Dutch giants Ajax.
Such unsavoury actions are frankly inexcusable and have repeatedly put the club in an impossible situation. They have persistently backed their star man throughout the fallout from his various misdemeanours, risking substantial damage to their own reputation in the process.
You might expect such fierce loyalty to be appreciated and fully reciprocated. That does not appear to be the case with Suarez, however, who made his desire to leave the club in search of Champions League football perfectly clear this summer.
And with considerable subsequent interest having built around the striker during the current transfer window, it is my belief that the club should cut their losses and offload Suarez to the highest bidder. Real Madrid, who are known to harbour a keen interest in the player, would be an ideal destination for all parties yet it is unclear whether they would have the financial capability or indeed the inclination to pursue another mammoth deal so close to the end of the transfer window once they finally come to an agreement with Tottenham for the signing of Wales star Gareth Bale.
Arsenal, whose long-serving manager Arsene Wenger has been the recipient of fierce criticism from his own club's fans in recent weeks due to his rather lacklustre performance in the transfer market this summer, are the other club persistently linked with a move for Suarez having already failed with a bid of over £40 million that they mistakenly believed would be enough to trigger a clause in the player's contract.
I fully understand Liverpool's reluctance to let Suarez join a domestic rival. However, even with Suarez back in the fold after his 10-game ban handed down in the aftermath of the Ivanovic incident finally ends, are the Reds realistically likely to be challenging for domestic glory? If Arsenal are able to produce the sort of offer that Suarez's breathtaking talent indisputably merits, then the Liverpool hierarchy should swallow their pride and seriously consider it.
Although the 2013/14 campaign is currently just two games old, England international Daniel Sturridge is showing all the signs that he is capable of partly filling the sizeable void that would inevitably be left by Suarez's departure. His goal against Paul Lambert's youthful Aston Villa outfit recently was pure class, combining excellent technique with commendable composure. He is certainly not comparable to Suarez at this stage, but that could all change with sustained exposure to first-team football as the spearhead of Liverpool's dynamic attack.
Despite his excellent record, Sturridge alone would not be enough to compensate Suarez's departure. His possible sale during the current window would obviously be extremely risky given the lack of time available to secure fitting replacements. However, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is an astute and canny operator in the transfer market and I find it very difficult to believe that he wouldn't have formulated a contingency plan for such an event.
It may not be a particularly popular opinion but if Liverpool want to redeem their previously positive reputation and avoid further tiresome and potentially damaging controversies, then Suarez needs to leave Anfield for good.