Suarez Gets Some Much Needed Advice

"Mario Balotelli is offering me advice. Things are worse than I feared." - Alex Livesey

Amidst the legions of people proffering suggestions to Luis Suarez in the wake of his latest ban are two people who might actually be position to provide some perspective: his wife Sofia and fellow footballer Mario Balotelli.

It's often those who are least qualified to give advice who seem most inclined to give it, and Luis Suarez has likely received more unsolicited advice in the last two weeks than one person could ever need in an entire life time. He should leave England while he still can, he should stay at Liverpool because he owes the club a major debt of gratitude, he should see a therapist, he should start his own line of snack cakes for hungry footballers, etc. on and on and on.

But there may yet be two people in the world who could offer actual legitimate advice to the striker: his wife Sofia, the person who knows him best, and Mario Balotelli, the person who knows his situation best.

"My wife has made observations," Suarez said, "like ‘You were arguing with the referee and the defenders too much, you didn’t really seem up for it today. You might as well have not been on the pitch.’ I go away, think about it and realise she was right.

"She said people must go away and think that is what I am like on the pitch, even though I’m usually relaxed and easy going. Having a wife that closely watches the game is good. She knows me better than anyone else and I want her observations to help me play better and be a happier person."

Familial shame is a powerful motivator and while reports of Sofia having her UEFA coaching badges remain unconfirmed, it's clear that she's not wrong. Whether Suarez's personal embarrassment with his wife translates to improved behaviour on the pitch when he returns next fall is anyone's guess, but it certainly can't hurt.

There are many words used to describe Mario Balotelli — "troubled" might be a generous adjective — and during his short time in England he managed to rack up an impressive list of controversial moments that might rival Suarez's own list of indiscretions. He was quick to express his dislike of the English press upon his move back to Italy in February, and Balotelli empathizes with Suarez's situation, no matter how self-inflicted it may be.

"Suarez is now somebody that the whole of England finds interesting," Balotelli said. "It doesn’t matter if people like him or don’t like him, they will always be interested in exactly what he is doing. Like they were with me.

"My only advice to him is ignore everything that people say about you. The only thing Suarez needs to do is concentrate on football."

Helping children confront their school yard bullies probably wouldn't hurt Suarez's image, either, but for a man who could stand to be out of the spotlight for a bit, going back to basics and concentrating on his game is certainly a good place to start.

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