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Suárez Begins to Edge Away

With strong rumours that talks will officially begin today between Barcelona and Liverpool, the Catalan club have apparently set their sights determinedly on Luis Suárez. Meanwhile, Brendan Rodgers hopes to lure Alexis Sanchez in the opposite direction. This will be no fun at all, will it?

Those stories about playing as Liverpool on the Playstation as a kid were sticking in Luis' incisors now...
Those stories about playing as Liverpool on the Playstation as a kid were sticking in Luis' incisors now...
Clive Rose

Rationalization. You're all doing it. All of you. Whether you're a heartbroken Luis Suárez loyalist, a smug told-you-so pedant or a gleeful masochist reveling in the melodrama that seems to perpetually envelop the Uruguayan striker, everybody is in the process of adjusting to the latest turn of events; telling ourselves a tale that frames this most abnormal of situations in terms we can understand. Oh, there will be relationship metaphors. There will be so many relationship metaphors. In a futile attempt at maintaining some tenuous grasp on originality, we will eschew such romance-based analogies here, at least until they are utterly apposite. Love, after all, is a cruel mistress. Sorry. See? They're like a particularly virulent mental infestation.

To describe the Suárez-related thought process of your poor addled scribbler as conflicted would be an understatement akin to suggesting that Cristiano Ronaldo has a passing interest in male grooming. Dealt a steady procession of familial and medical crises to engage with over the last couple of years, the footballers of Liverpool took on a very special role in redressing the happiness balance when it came to wringing a little pleasure from life.

Chief amongst those responsible for pasting an idiotic grin on many faces has been our Uruguayan number seven -- for some, the finest footballer to have worn the Red since John Barnes. Yet this same bellicose virtuoso has also managed to be at the heart of some of the most wretched moments in recent club history. His on-pitch magnificence has caused many right-thinking folk to make rash and foolish defences of some of his less than edifying actions. We have loved him, you see. That's what fans do. They buy-in. They commit. They check their cool detachment at the door and don their partisan hat. Nobody says this is logical. It clearly isn't. Where would the fun be in that?

Of course, if you are possessed of a modicum of sense, you will have squirmed uncomfortably through the whole disagreeable Evra debacle and been more than a little irritated by the Ivanovic-as-brunch incident. Last summer, I for one, was ready to cut all ties with the Uruguayan after the shockingly distasteful exit machinations he cooked up with Pere Guardiola and his even more odious flirtation with Arsenal. Then Suárez did what Suárez does and the sheer vivacious élan of his football made us forget. As outrageous goal followed outrageous goal, we were seduced, won around and...wait, that's veering towards those abhorrent relationship metaphors again. Apologies.

As Wednesday has gone on, the chatter across social media has been increasingly fraught, with an entire army of Reds waiting on the slightest hint of information. The result of this fact vacuum has been wild speculation, frazzled pontification and indignant posturing. Is Ian Ayre on top of these reported negotiations? How dare Alexis Sanchez prefer Arsenal and London! Liverpool better play this one right and insist on top dollar! We hold all the cards! For the love of Fowler, won't somebody think of the children?!

If the supposed London discussions between the much maligned Liverpool chief executive, Ayre, and Barcelona's director of football management, Raul Sanllehi have indeed taken place, they were no doubt only preliminary shadow boxing. This potential move, which looks increasingly inevitable, will be a complicated interaction, with many moving pieces. Unless the Catalan club decide to abandon any interest in attaining a good deal, they will try to force Liverpool's hand.

Already we have felt a touch bilious as Barca's sporting director, Andoni Zubizaretta, cynically praised the humilty and character of Liverpool's striker for having the nobility to issue an apology only when it was strongly suggested that his potential employers might like that.

"Suárez has shown he is humble enough to admit an error, which is very important," averred the former international goalkeeper. "He has been humble enough to apologise to those he has affected, because it happened in the middle of a festival of football. In this case it’s the best thing a person can do."

In a typically canny move, the Blaugrana have even roped in new boy, Ivan Rakitic, to attest to the "character and strength" of their prime target and no doubt, all across Barcelona, fans are engaged in that same rationalisation process that we spoke of earlier, convincing themselves, as Liverpool fans have done, that this time it will be different. They will want to believe that Luis Suárez is simply a wonderful footballer and that that is all that matters. The problem will arise when they discover for themselves that he is an even more singular talent than they think but one that comes with a trailer full of baggage.

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