Luis Suarez ended the club campaign as the top goalscorer in the Premier League and with almost unanimous appreciation from his peers and journalists. Yet despite Suarez insisting he was content at Liverpool after inspiring the club to a best domestic season in 24 years, it could be that he leaves the club this summer.
A potential departure was on the cards before Suarez sunk his teeth into the shoulder of Giorgio Chiellini in Uruguay’s World Cup defeat of Italy, with Real Madrid or Barcelona his destination of choice.
But while Liverpool would not have previously entertained the prospect of selling their marquee player, despite the sizeable transfer fee on offer, it may well be that the club’s American owners take inspiration from baseball and dump Suarez after three strikes of enormous significance.
Interest from Real Madrid and Barcelona
Suarez is wanted by Real Madrid, as he was a year ago, and Florentino Perez would appear intent on making the Uruguayan his latest notable acquisition following the world record signing of Gareth Bale from Tottenham.
Alongside Madrid in contention to sign him are Barcelona, and Suarez could be presented with a choice this summer that all footballers dream of. Not many are afforded the opportunity to select which Clasico club to join, and the position Suarez finds himself in reinforces the standing in the game his talent has allowed him to reach.
A reputation in tatters again
Suarez had been able to rebuild his reputation after the FA charges brought against him following the abhorrent abuse of Patrice Evra, and the inexplicable gnawing on the arm of Branislav Ivanovic. The fact that did so was thanks to the unwavering support of the Liverpool hierarchy, and exemplary man management by Brendan Rodgers.
However, once again Suarez’s reputation is in tatters after his latest unfathomable act, which came in the form of yet another biting incident - the third of his career - and this time taking place on the grandest stage of all.
Will Liverpool stand by their man on this occasion? They have been resolute, sometimes questionably so, following Suarez’s previous misdemeanours, and it would arrive as little surprise if the player, such are his talents, continues to receive the unswerving backing of his club.
But the loyalty he has towards Liverpool given the support they have always provided would understandably be abandoned should an offer to join Real Madrid or Barcelona be genuine. Suarez would depart Liverpool with a heavy heart and a decision to leave Anfield should not be vilified given the appeal of a prospective transfer.
An opportunity too good to miss?
Liverpool may have five European Cups in their illustrious history and maintain an allure like few other clubs, but Suarez choosing to leave for either Real Madrid or Barcelona should be a relatively straightforward decision.
At the Santiago Bernabeu he would become the focal point of an frontline with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale either side of an attacking triumvirate. Join Barcelona and Suarez would form a three alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar.
Remain at Liverpool and Suarez would continue in tandem with Daniel Sturridge, while there will also be times when he partners Rickie Lambert. Liverpool also have Raheem Sterling and Steven Gerrard, of course - good players, yes, but not the elite performers he would join in Spain.
Suarez has a desire be teammates with the game’s most accomplished players and challenge for the very top honours. Liverpool may get to that level, but are not there yet - Real Madrid and Barcelona are.
Watch: Experts respond to Suarez bite
Time to move on?
Suarez loves Liverpool, of that there is no doubt, but this want to join one of the top two clubs in the world means he should not forgo the chance to do so. His attack on Chiellini will not alter this stance.
Liverpool are a great club with a unique history that sets them apart from all others. But they are not Real Madrid or Barcelona and, although on an encouraging rise under Brendan Rodgers, are no match for these two giants.
A football career at the highest level is a short one, and most players are desperate to achieve optimum success during this time, while they will do everything in their power to get there.
Suarez will forsake the adulation from Liverpool fans for the prospect of greater success elsewhere and, with it, yet more worship. The 27-year-old will see in Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard the sacrifices that come with committing to one club, and will be desperate that his own career ends with a plethora of league titles rather than a multitude of near misses.