When Liverpool FC sold Fernando Torres on transfer deadline day in January 2011, few fans thought they would be getting a better replacement. Just over £20 million was paid to the Dutch club Ajax for Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez. Suarez would leave plenty of amazing and breathtaking memories on our game but he also brought baggage with him to this country.
Famed for the handball on the goal-line in extra-time that denied Ghana a place in the 2010 World Cup semi-finals, Suarez wasn’t the most popular player with neutral fans. His character was stained further after he was found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra during a match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United in October 2011. Suarez was banned for eight matches by the FA and his refusal to shake Evra’s hand in the reverse fixture on his return at Old Trafford also received plenty of condemnation.
In 2012-2013, he was in electrifying form. Only Robin van Persie was ahead of him in the goalscoring charts and he was beginning to form a deadly alliance with Daniel Sturridge in the Reds’ attack under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers. In April 2013, Chelsea visited Anfield which was Rafa Benitez’s first return to the ground since leaving his post as Liverpool manager three years earlier.
The game was finely balanced. Chelsea led 2-1 after Suarez had unnecessarily given away a penalty for handball from which Eden Hazard converted from. Minutes later, he had a clash with Branislav Ivanovic in the Liverpool penalty area as a counter-attack broke down. Ivanovic was incensed about the battle though and pointed out to the referee Kevin Friend what had happened. At first, none of us knew what he was on about. However, replays were about to reveal the extent of Suarez’s crime. Upset with the grappling on him, he decided to take a bite out of the Serbian defender. It was an appalling and disgusting piece of behaviour which was initially unseen so he went unpunished. To add insult to Chelsea’s woes, Suarez scored a late equaliser to rescue a point for his side.
Four days later, he was charged by the FA and banned for 10 matches. Liverpool stated intent to appeal against the suspension but after 48 hours withdrew on Suarez’s acceptance that he should serve the ban and learn his lesson. He didn’t though. The same incident happened in the 2014 World Cup when he was playing for Uruguay.
He left Liverpool FC with many fantastic memories including great goals, devastating hat-tricks against Norwich City and deservedly swept the awards board in 2014 before his £75 million switch to Barcelona. However, the marks on his character will always remain with many fans.