11 July 2014 17:07
Luis Suarez’s move to Barcelona should not be a surprise to Liverpool fans, according to the editor of prominent fanzine The Anfield Wrap.
It was announced on Friday that the Uruguay international will sign a five-year deal with Barca next week – ending speculation surrounding his future.
Suarez has rarely been out of the headlines since joining Liverpool from Ajax in January 2011 – lighting up the Premier League with a series of virtuoso performances, while also being hit with lengthy bans for racially abusing Patrice Evra and biting Branislav Ivanovic.
He was recently handed a four-month ban from all football-related activity for biting Giorgio Chiellini at the FIFA World Cup, and The Anfield Wrap’s magazine editor Gareth Roberts said he was “disappointed but not surprised” at Suarez’s decision to leave Merseyside.
“I think we could see last season that he obviously wanted to leave. We had the saga with Arsenal and the release clause,” Roberts told Perform.
“What people are forgetting is that even after that, while he was still banned, Brendan Rodgers made him train away from the team so there were clearly still some issues there.
“Obviously, Liverpool didn’t make a big deal of it at the time but it was reported and I think it was quite clear that he wanted to leave and frustrated that he couldn’t leave.
“Yes he had a brilliant season and was the Premier League’s top scorer and inspired Liverpool to probably the best title challenge since they last won the league.
“But at the same time when he signed his new contract he had a cast-iron release clause put in – not one Liverpool could argue with this time.”
There were suggestions that Suarez’s bite on Chiellini acted as a catalyst for his exit from Liverpool, with the club forced to deal with another storm surrounding the player.
While Roberts believes Liverpool were always likely to be a “stepping stone” for the 27-year-old, he initially harboured hopes the bite could have kept him at Anfield longer.
“It always felt to me like we were always going to be a stepping stone at some point,” he added.
“I think getting such a huge fee after the World Cup where he’s bitten another opponent, got another ban, I think Liverpool did quite well.
“I actually thought the bite would influence it in that he would stay a little bit longer because I thought future employers may look at it and think: ‘OK Liverpool, he’s done this so he’s damaged his reputation even more. So now we’re only prepared to pay £50 million’.
“But I’m not surprised that Barcelona are prepared to turn a blind eye really because he is a brilliant player – probably among the top three in the world.”