Luis Suarez - troubled genius or talented timebomb?

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In the week when the Ballon d'Or was awarded to Cristiano Ronaldo, it's time to take a look at a player who's ability is up there with the best in the world, step forward Mr Luis Suarez.

The Liverpool forward is tremendously talented, he can dribble past opponents with unnerving speed, he can pick out a teammate with a defence splitting pass and he can score goals, and lots of them, from inside or outside the box.

However, there's another side to Luis Suarez, a side which has been caught biting an opponent, on two seperate occassions.

The same man once deliberately handled the ball on the goal line to save his team from certain defeat in the dying seconds of a World Cup quarter final, and then celebrated when the opposition missed the resulting penalty.

On more than one occasion he's been accused of going to ground far too easily, and he's not adversed to trying to force through a transfer when he's decided he wants to move on, having taken former club Groningen to the KNVB arbitration committee to try and force through a move to Ajax in 2007 .

But, far worse than all those misdemeanours is a charge of racially abusing an opponent, and then refusing a handshake during a future meeting.

While only Suarez himself can be sure of whether or not his comments to Patrice Evra in October 2011 were meant as a racial slur, not even the best of lawyers could defend his decision to not shake the Frenchman's hand when the pair met at Old Trafford in February 2013.

Yes, Luis Suarez is a man who, at times, can make Mario Balottelli look like Mother Theresa.

However, is it fair that these indiscrepancies prevent his true talent being recognised?

So far this season Suarez has scored 22 goals in just 17 league appearances, and it could have been more were it not for captain Steven Gerrard being on penalty taking duty.

Not only has he offered a constant goal threat for the Anfield club, he also the ability to bring others into play, highlighted in his brilliant partnership with Daniel Sturridge, with the pair being labelled the 'SAS'.

It was in a four-game spell in December 2013 when we really saw what Suarez the player, not the man, was really all about. The Uruguayan hit ten goals in just four games, including four goals against Norwich.

The first that night saw him hit a stunning forty yard effort over the keeper after the ball bounced his way, before somehow hooking his left leg behind his body to volley home from a corner for his second of the game.

Number three was reminiscent of Paul Gascgoine at Euro '96, as he looped the ball over the head of a defender before smashing home an unstoppable half-volley from the edge of the box.

And just when you thought it couldn't get better, he proved there was more to his locker than just a tidy volley by bending home an unstoppable free-kick for his fourth of the game.

It's at times like that when you have no choice but just bow down to greatness, and admire a player in his prime, and this is a player who should be enjoying the best years of his career.

At 26-years-old, immaturity cannot be an excuse for Suarez's behaviour, and with Martin Jol having made him captain during his time at Ajax, and current boss Brendan Rodgers putting his faith in him in the absence of Gerrard, it's clear that his coaches see him as a man who can lead others and set an example.

Yet he seems unable to showcase those attributes on a consistent basis, and only yesterday (Saturday) he was caught up in a diving row, as he was judged by some to have gone down under little, or no, contact from Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

While Suarez may not quite have the ability of Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo just yet, the thing that most sets him apart from those stars are his temperment and his behaviour.

As much as football fans enjoy seeing him tear teams apart with his pace, power and clinical finishing, it's hard to grow fond of a man who's list of crimes is perhaps longer than his achievements.

However, should Liverpool boss Rodgers manage to install a consistent level of discipline in his star striker, 2014 could be the year people stop talking about his behaviour and recognise Luis Suarez for what he really is; a truly world class player.

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Luis Suarez
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