Forgiveness, indifference or judgement? – 9 thoughts on Barça’s new number 9

First things first. Luis Suárez is a lunatic, a complete nutcase and has a history of proving that on the pitch. In principal, he is also a fantastic player and could be the best center-forward profile available for Barcelona. So if you’ll excuse me for not really knowing what to think about his transfer to Barcelona, I’ll share a few thoughts in an article I never ever thought I would write.

1. The dude needs help. That is the first thing that should be established, and as he has to wait until the end of October to play for Barcelona, the time should be used to seek professional assistance to treat what quite obviously is a problem; the biting. There’s no rational explanation as to why a human-being chooses to bite another whilst playing football, and having done it thrice, it’s obvious that there are some wires in Suárez’s head that have a tendency to get mixed. So in short, both the player and the club should seek help in order to make sure that no biting occurs while wearing the blaugrana colors. An anti-biting clause won’t be enough, because as much as Suárez vows not to do it again, it’s become obvious that it’s something he can’t really control about himself. Quoting the late American author Stephen Covey, “you can’t talk your way out of the problems you behave yourself into“.

2. He’s not the kind of guy that should represent Barcelona. He has a history of racism (not to mention the bites) and I don’t like the fact that Barcelona is looking at a player like him, let alone signing him. And frankly, I don’t like the fact that the club has thrown all of its values out of the window just to sign this guy. I’m not trying to claim any moral high-ground, but as the club’s (at least previously) uncompromised values were one of the reasons I originally fell in love with it, it’s hard for me to support this choice taken by the club, as much as I consider Suárez a fab player.

3. And to answer to the counter-argument the previous paragraph could evoke, I’m well aware that guys like Hristo Stoichkov previously represented the club very successfully despite not being “good boys”, and some could say that a rough edge is what Barcelona needs right now. Fair enough, passion is fine and admirable, and passion boiling over every now and again is understandable. I can bring myself to understand that. But then again, I’m not sure if you can associate biting with passion, or if you can simply excuse Suárez by saying that he’s just a “free spirit”, or whatever. “The best live on the edge”? I’m sure they do, but I don’t want to live on the edge of my seat, waiting for another outburst, because in the end, when he messes up, the club pays for it. Even more so now than in the era of Stoichkov, because now, everyone sees it, there are 50 cameras on each stadium recording Suárez’s every move and every move ends up on Youtube, Twitter, Vine, whatever. And don’t think the opponents don’t know that too. They do, and they’ll go to extremes to get under his skin. And as some have compared him to Samuel Eto’o, I’d again like to remind everyone that he didn’t bite people, he had his heated moments but never intentionally attempted to hurt an opponent. So there’s that. Nor is he a racist.

4. What it all comes down to in the end is which Barcelona values more, their image, or their trophy-cabinet. The addition of Suárez indicates that they want to return to the winning ways more than they want to protect the image that they’ve already destroyed, and perhaps that’s fine. What better way to sweep stuff under the rug than a big signing? Admittedly, Suárez’s inclusion in the squad could help Barcelona win, but it won’t do wonders to the image.

5. To only add to why I feel odd and more than slightly torn about this signing, Suárez, in my mind, is an ideal profile. A guy who can make both offensive and defensive runs, a guy who can help Barcelona press, a guy who can work in small spaces and a guy who can also play on either wing every now and again. Perhaps not the strongest header in the world, but still a centimeter taller than Samuel Eto’o who used to work like a charm. So if he could keep his teeth to himself and retreat from racism, I’d take him with open arms, and I can see the logic of the people who say that signing him is the right choice. I can see Luis Enrique’s logic too. Hell, I can even understand that there are people who look at the quality player that he is and are willing to forget his dark side, simply not care about it. I’m just not sure if I can do it. I probably can’t, as much as I’d like to genuinely support and love every player that wears the colors I love.

6. And yes, while people try not to drool at the prospect, I will admit to it too. Neymar-Suárez-Messi is quite possibly the most fascinating forward line in the world of football, and could become the most efficient too. As said in the previous paragraph, Suárez, in footballing terms, is a perfect profile, and I suppose I should be over the moon at the moment, because I’ve long begged Barca to sign a striker. Long story short, I’m not over the moon. I think it’s obvious why.

7. If one thing’s for sure, it’ll be weird seeing him in our colors. On one hand, he is a fantastic player and because I always want to see Barcelona do well, it would probably be logical to end up wanting him to do well, too, for the best interest of the club. Then on the other hand, although I like the talent, I genuinely do not like this guy and do not like the club’s decision to sign him. So I’m going to take a while to really form an opinion on him as a Barcelona player. For whatever he’s done, I won’t ever defend him, whatever idiotism he could practice in Barcelona,  I won’t defend just because he’s a Barcelona player. That’s about that. And I hope his value on the pitch proves to be so sky-high that it will at least partly justify the fact that Barcelona compromised their values to sign him. Will I ever genuinely support him? I honestly don’t know. Right now, in the heat of the moment, with the biting-incident (plus the two other biting-incidents, plus the racism-incident) knocking on my head, I say no. But I won’t close the door for forgiveness for good. But I guess I could use the old cliche and say that it’s up to him to earn whatever trust, affection, support and forgiveness he aims to have.

8. And to clarify, this is not to say he’s a bad person. What do I know? He’s a family man, and apparently everyone at Liverpool, from teammates to staff, liked him. So I don’t think he’s the terrible person people make him out to be. But quite simply, we tend to judge players by what they do on the pitch, and when someone continuously crosses a certain line on the pitch, it’s hard to justify that regardless of how great a person he is off the field.

9. And finally, Luis, don’t you dare f*ck up. The blaugrana jersey’s been dragged through the mud way too many times as it is, so you’d better make sure that the only thing you ever stain it with is sweat. If that happens, the goals, the assists, the on-pitch stuff can make you a valuable asset. If you do screw up, however, I won’t give a rat’s arse about how many goals you score.