For the most part, Liverpool have tried moved on quickly following the departure of Luis Suarez. A few moments of reflection, though, were always likely inevitable, particularly for Steven Gerrard. The Liverpool captain played a role in convincing Suarez to stay last summer—in part by arguing Suarez was too good for Arsenal—and admits he's disappointed to lose the Uruguayan striker but that this time, the club couldn't stand in his way.
"I believe if we had Luis Suarez we'd be title favourtes," Gerrard told reporters ahead of last night's pre-season match against last season's Premier League champions Manchester City. "I'm disappointed to see him leave now but I'm happy that he's got the move he wants and deserves. Since day one he was phenomenal in training every day and in the games. I don't think you can begrudge a player like that, who has worked so hard for his dream.
"You can't go against him when he says he is leaving for Barcelona. His dream from the first day he came was to play for Real Madrid or Barcelona. Last summer when he was out in the cold and training on his own that's the conversation I had with him. I would have been really disappointed to see Luis go to Arsenal. With all due respect to them, I said to him that he was too good for Arsenal. I said if you score 30 goals and win player of the year, Real or Barcelona will come for you."
Gerrard, it turned out, was right in the end. Suarez had the best season of his career, scoring more than 30 goals and winning player of the year. And Liverpool finished ahead of Arsenal, growing stronger as the season progressed while the Gunners, clear title favourites for a time, eventually threw away their best chance to win the league in a decade. As for who was wrong, Gerrard points the finger at Suarez advisors—and on recent evidence that seem more than fair.
"I think he got the wrong advice last year from people around him, from people saying he needed to play in the Champions League and it did not matter who it was for," said Gerrard. "I have experience of the Spanish clubs myself and know if you play well they will come back and come back, so I knew they'd be back for him as well. I just thought for his own sake, to get the respect of the Liverpool fans, he had to give up at least one more year."
One more year on top of that, and a chance to play for Liverpool in the Champions League, would have gotten Suarez rather more respect from the Liverpool fans. His biting of Giorgio Chiellini, though, put an end to any thought the club would try to hold on to him if there was serious interest from abroad. And so in the end Suarez has left, perhaps not viewed in the same negative light as Fernando Torres but certainly not with a great deal of fondness for most.
He was a brilliant player and a massive headache. He scored some wonderful goals and played a key role in getting Liverpool back into the Champions League. It seems unlikely, though, that in a few years he'll be remembered with the kind of affection Liverpool fans reserve for long-serving stars and cult heroes. He won't be remembered like Steven Gerrard or Sami Hyypia or Dirk Kuyt. He probably won't even be remembered like Maxi Rodriguez or Luis Garcia.
So it goes. But he helped to get Liverpool back into the Champions League. And then he got the move he's always dreamed of. Best of luck to him with it.
- Breaking Down Brendan Rodgers' Two New Formations From the Manchester City Match
- Rodgers: "We've Still Got Some Business to Do"
- Manchester City 2, Liverpool 2 (pen. 1-3): Raheem Sterling Does it Again
- Rumour Mongering: Borini to Sunderland Back On
- No New Contract Yet, But Gerrard Not Worried About the Future