Ramos and Pepe may have to contemplate buying shoulder pads
Published 12/07/2014 | 02:30
Whatever it represents, Luis Suarez's assault by molar on Giorgio Chiellini in this World Cup hardly marks a decline in his career. His reward for chewing on the shoulder of the Italian has been substantial.
As good as Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling may be, they are not exactly Lionel Messi and Neymar. Suarez has arrived where he has long considered was his destiny: at the top.
Sure, there may be a couple of minor inconveniences about the substantial ban with which he was served after his unorthodox snacking in Brazil. It is unlikely, for instance, he will be unveiled to his new adoring public in the Nou Camp, as that is a footballing premises and he is prevented from frequenting those.
But essentially it is as if Natal never happened. This is business as usual. Him and the club which is circumventing a suspended transfer ban in his signing make a suitably unrepentant couple.
This was always going to happen. As was intimated after the game against England by his comments about his treatment, a departure from the Premier League was being planned long before the World Cup started.
As with Cristiano Ronaldo leaving Manchester for Madrid, last season was just a long curtain call. But for those who witnessed it, it was a special swansong. His performances were at a level which induced purring. Not just a finisher, but a player who transcended the harum scarum of the Premier League. His skill, his touch, his influence made it, at times, a privilege to be a witness.
Brendan Rodgers was right to insist no player can be bigger than the club, but he knows Suarez came close. Tottenham's experience last summer showed you can still find yourself horribly exposed when your star name departs. Yet a part of Rodgers must be relieved the player is no longer his responsibility. His attitude to his fellow pros in England was appalling.
How Rodgers, who had brilliantly handled the player, must have despaired at what happened in Natal. The claims Suarez issued after biting Branislav Ivanovic, about changing and learning, were demonstrated to be hogwash.
And what has happened this week suggests there is even less chance he will reform. Why should he? Everyone around him – his agent, his national team manager, the Uruguay president – has told him he is marvellous, a victim of a vicious conspiracy. Now, Barcelona have endorsed that view, telling him that, as long as he issues a half-hearted apology, he will be embraced with more opportunity, more money.
None of the issues which afflict him have been addressed. With such little incentive for Suarez to take action to quell his compulsions, if Sergio Ramos, Pepe or other La Liga centre-backs are wise, they will go into future games against Barcelona wearing shoulder pads. (© Daily Telegraph)