I wish I could say I’m surprised at the latest news in the Suarez situation. I wish I could say I’m angry at Suarez for wanting to leave, at Liverpool for not convincing him to stay, and at Pere Guardiola and Ian Ayre for apparently not knowing how to negotiate a contract. But I can’t. If anything, this whole ordeal has left me more jaded than ever. Not because of the hypocrisy of Suarez’s reasoning, not because of his apparent need to go public, but because of Liverpool’s recent inability of dealing with marquee players in a graceful manner. If what Suarez is saying about the club sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve heard it before. From some of the most beloved players in the club’s history. Let’s look at 2008/09 onwards:
Xabi Alonso: On the verge of being forced out in the summer of 2008, our bearded midfield maestro eventually stayed because the Gareth Barry transfer fell through for one reason or another. Understandably, Alonso felt unwanted, and proceeded next summer to leave for Real Madrid. James Pearce (from the Echo) sums up the entire episode pretty well here. The transfer saga itself wasn’t bad, but this is where things started going downhill.
Javier Mascherano: Here’s where the buzz words first start appearing: "truth", "lies", "disappointed". Mascherano states: "Roy Hodgson knows the truth. This is a happy moment for me so now is not the time to say it, but a lot of lies have been told about me and I will respond to them… I was disappointed not to be able to sign last season." From the quotes, it seems Mascherano wasn’t particularly happy with the way Liverpool handled things. Of course, this is only one side of the story, and by itself would seem to indicate a lack of professionalism on Mascherano’s part instead of the club’s. But let’s keep going.
Fernando Torres: Oh, the heartbreak. This was the lowest of lows. The deep feelings of betrayal, as our number 9 slaughtered our dreams Red Wedding style, as Roman Abramovich sent his regards. It seemed the club was blindsided by Torres’s transfer request, and though Liverpool tried to keep him, the might of the evil empire was too much. But as we look deeper, Liverpool’s innocence starts to fade away. Liverpool did everything in their power to shift the blame to Torres, which we, as fans, took as gospel. We wanted to believe that Torres put the club in an impossible position. However, the player yet again had a different side to the story. Again, the player spoke of lies and broken promises. In particular, this quote cut deep: "The fans don’t even know half of what happened. They don’t know what the people in charge at Liverpool are like - they have a completely different perception of what they are like."
Raul Meireles: Yet another parting between player and club that left both parties unhappy with the other. Again, the club’s stance was the same as the one during the Torres transfer, stating that Meireles forced a transfer. However, the player told a different story. Meireles: "All I have to say is that I had one promise at Liverpool which wasn't fulfilled… Liverpool asked me to hand in a transfer request, so that's normal… I was aware that Liverpool wanted to sell me in the summer, which was a bit surprising to me"
Pepe Reina: Still hurts to think about, so I’ll just quote straight from Pepe’s letter: "I am disappointed that I will not be part of that and although it was not my decision to leave I will accept it just like I have always accepted any decision that Liverpool have taken for me… But if I have one regret, it is the way that I am leaving. It is only natural that I would be disappointed that the Liverpool management agreed to loan me to Napoli without telling me first."
As we have seen, Liverpool and its big players have not had happy endings in the recent past. Five different players, three of whom can be considered true modern greats, have had less than ideal exits. And now, the player most recently voted the #5 player all time who shook the Kop, is on the verge of the same type of exit. When many of your star players come out with similar messages, maybe it's time to listen.
It's no accident this keeps happening to Liverpool; sooner or later, the actions of the club must be scrutinized as much as the player's. Of course, it’s impossible to know how much of the blame truly lies with Liverpool, but after reading the recent Suarez interview, it's hard to shake off this sinking feeling that Luis Suarez might not be most to blame.