The football world has been dominated by one story this week with the worldwide ban of Liverpool and Uruguay striker Luis Suarez for biting Italy's Georgio Chiellini in their World Cup group stage clash.
It is, incredibly, the third time Suarez has been banned for biting an opponent and has such been hit by FIFA with a four month ban from any footballing activity. So where does this leave Suarez and his club side Liverpool in particular?
Luis Suarez is an enigma. His footballing talent is as difficult to control as his irrational and often inexcusable behaviour. His list of controversies is as long as his list of honours. On the pitch, his goals propelled Liverpool to within touching distance of a first league title in 24 years and Suarez, rightfully, took a clean sweep of individual accolades at the seasons end.
So why would Liverpool want rid of one of the world's very best players?
This is not the first time Suarez has been hit with a long term ban whilst at Anfield. In 2011, he was found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra and hit with an eight match ban. In 2013, the Uruguayan was suspended for 10 matches, this time for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic. The incident was the second ban for biting of Suarez's career, having also been suspended during his time with former club Ajax for a similar offence.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has long defended and praised his star man, even going as far as to say the striker has made him both a "better person and better manager". Can, however, the Northern Irishman excuse the inexcusable once more?
Big money bid
The decision may in fact be taken away from Rodgers and made by the hierarchy of the Anfield board. To think of it in business terms, Liverpool possess an asset that was valued in the region of £80m. This asset however has caused serious damage to the overall brand of the company and could in fact see its own value decrease as a consequence. Would it be better to cash in on that asset whilst it still has value? Or take the risk of further damages? Football is after all, big business.
Even with his suspension, there seems to be no shortage of suitors should Suarez or the club decide it is for the best to part ways. La Liga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid have been long-term admirers, with the former believed to be pressing ahead with negotiations. Suarez himself has links to Catalonia; he has family living close to Barcelona, whilst the player's agent, Pere Guardiola, is the brother of legendary former Barca player and manager Pep.
The Catalan giants are believed to be readying a package to send to Liverpool, rumoured to include a large fee plus Chile forward Alexis Sanchez. Sanchez would be an ideal replacement for the outgoing Suarez, having shone on the world stage at this summer's World Cup.
Like Neymar for Brazil, the Chilean seems to have a new lease of life being the main man for his country, away from the huge shadow of Lionel Messi for their club side. A move to a Suarez-less Liverpool side may give him the platform and responsibility to continue to thrive as the main front man. Whether Barcelona's polite ushering of Sanchez towards Anfield would lead to him accepting the move remains to be seen.
Building a squad
What about the current Anfield crop? Daniel Sturridge has proved he can perform in his partner's absence, leading the line prolifically in Suarez's absence through suspension at the start of last season. Raheem Sterling also, with added responsibility may continue his rapid development and rise to prominence. That's without mentioning the new attacking additions from Southampton in Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana.
Liverpool have one of the most unenviable decisions to make in recent times, thee conundrum of whether your star asset has a positive or negative impact on your club. Sounds illogical, right? Whatever Rodgers and Liverpool decide is best for the club, one thing is for certain. Luis Suarez will be cemented in the memory, for better or worse, of an entire football generation.
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