Another Piece About Suarez

Luis was famous for his opportunistic underarm tickling - Jan Kruger

After Luis Suarez comprehensively underlined his centrality to Liverpool's hopes of Champions League football next season, the ecstatic revelry has subsided and now all that remains is the gnawing uncertainty about his future. (C'mon, that's not bad. Gnawing? No? Fine. Suit yourself.)

You knew this had to happen. The come-down. The hangover. The ball of angst in your chest as you try to piece together information you are not fully in possession of. Liverpool fans were magnificently, exultantly intoxicated on Wednesday night by the potent brew of genius served up by Luis Suarez. It was with wild and hedonistic abandon that we drank in the formidable virtuosity of our Uruguayan striker and did we not revel in the realisation that a world great performs in a Liverpool shirt once again? Damn right we did.

As with any over-indulgence, there follows a quiet period of reflection and perhaps even regret. Did I reveal too much? Leave myself too vulnerable? Actually, what DID I say? Oh God, I didn't, did I? Wary of having been utterly shattered by his flirtation with Arsenal, your scribbler, like many Liverpool fans, had been heartily enjoying the brilliance of Suarez since his return, without ever really warming to him again as I had before. 'Fool me once...' and all that jazz. Don't misunderstand me, dear reader, I was delighted to have him in the team but I lack the emotional elasticity of some modern fans. Suarez had angered me immensely and us grumpy old curmudgeons do not forgive and forget easily.

That four goal display against Norwich, however, proved to be something of a principle-buster. I realised, as that outrageous, half-volleyed rocket of a third goal went in, that I had lost the protective hardness in my heart. I became aware that I loved this limb-nibbling mentalist again. If he'd been agitating to go to Bayern or Barca or Real, my affection would probably not have waned but his eyelid-batting at the Wenger-boys was just a crushing act of treachery in my eyes. And yet, as that net billowed, and the utterly disarming expression of shy delight crept across Suarez's face, I understood, that like someone hopelessly in love with an errant spouse, I had forgiven him, again.

This only makes the angst worse today. The fear of losing this maestro of the modern game began to bite once more. Hard. I want Liverpool Football Club to be the best in the world again, as it was when I was a boy, gorging on a regular diet of rich success. That beautiful dream will only become manifest reality if the club can hold on to players like Luis Suarez. The rationalising about how we could possibly be better without the Uruguayan genius seems hopelessly shallow now, guileless even. One simply cannot witness a display of adroit artfulness on the scale that Suarez produced at Anfield and ever consider it to be something that is surplus to requirements.

It may be fanciful to imagine Luis Suarez remaining at the club beyond the summer of 2014, Champions League or no Champions League, and despite making reassuring noises, neither player nor manager said anything concrete to suggest the Uruguayan's long-term future will be at Anfield, but at least the words of both men seem to suggest that a January exit is highly unlikely. Suarez, who has notched 13 goals in only 10 appearances this season, told Marca in the aftermath of the Norwich victory that he was "happy" and "will stay." He failed to supply a date.

Brendan Rodgers was typically bullish on the topic of Suarez's departure, however. He claimed the club would "fight tooth and nail" to keep hold of the player and he was unequivocal when asked if Suarez had been promised a favourable response to a transfer request in summer 2014 in return for his concentrated focus on Champions League qualification this season.

"There never was that before and there never was that this summer," he averred. "I don't sit in on the conversations but as I understand, there's no agreement of any kind. The contract was what it was. We want him to stay and with his contract running for two and a half years, I am sure there will be something between now and the end of the season to keep him here but there will be a number of dependencies on that. But the most important thing is that he is happy.

"There is probably a realisation of where he is at. The club's stance in the summer was well documented, but everybody stood by him, there was the warmth of the supporters, the power of his team-mates, the strength of the club and the way of working here all playing a factor. I knew, once we got that window out of the way, that he loves being on the football field, and as hard as that was for him in the summer, once that was over and done with, he would continue to show his continued importance to us. He has shown that. He is first class."

Rodgers insists that Suarez "deserves all the acclaim he gets" and claims the striker has the potential to become "one of the greats" of the club. In fact, the manager himself was quick to heap the pressure on his star performer by comparing him to the finest player in the club's history.

"There's no doubt that this club has been blessed with a number seven like Kenny Dalglish, the greatest player this club has had, and many other number sevens that have been brilliant," the manager opined. "But if Luis Suarez stays here for his career, he is certainly going to challenge that."

Frankly, with the sting of his previous transgressions having eased and the new bloom of affection still growing, it is giddily pleasing to consider a future in which this most unique of talents threatens every scoring record at the club and cements himself in the top five lists of all fans, but we are too battle-worn and wary to allow a dream of that ilk to take firm root. Instead, most of us will marvel at the magnificence of our slightly unhinged enigma and continue to feel the insecurity of the lover who knows he's punching above his weight.

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