Time to stop listening to Luis Suarez

Posted by Kristian Walsh

Eventually, it will happen. Maybe not today, probably not tomorrow. But there will come a time when fingers are stationed into ears and there is a collective, hearty chorus of la-la-la. There will come a time when everybody stops listening to Luis Suarez.

Some will fight the urge, the river-like vein in their neck throbbing, their eyes belligerently avoiding the printing of his latest soliloquy; others will simply show indifference, each word uttered on Uruguayan television a further erosion of what interest remains. For the boxer who has taken 10 rounds of constant jabbing, the 11th is a breeze; for Liverpool, who have spent the summer feeling the full force of Suarez’s haymakers, his latest one makes little difference.

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It does not necessarily matter what Suarez says, but that he says anything at all. There is no telling what he is truly saying, for translation can be tricky -- words can be twisted, intentions can be misjudged; Suarez surely will claim this, in an attempt to backtrack quicker than any defender he's terrorized, if he remains at Anfield next season.

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Instead, it is that Suarez is saying something, anything -- particularly when it is ultimately nothing. No translation is required for that. Si and no are not in his vocabulary right now, nor is the inclination to give straight answers. Ask Suarez the time, he'll tell you how the weather is; ask him how the weather is, he’ll say he is flattered by Arsenal's interest.

It is not entirely his fault, of course; few footballers stand upon a plinth wearing a sandwich board to attract attention, windmilling their arms with transfer request in hand. The sly comments, noncommittal responses and innuendo are just part of football's languid lexicon. He did not ask for Arsenal to bid a derisory 30 million pounds for him and, understandably, he does not want to dismiss interest from a Champions League side.

But then, fault does ultimately reside with Suarez, because he did ask for other things: He asked for Real Madrid to whisk him from Merseyside, away from the land of the tyrannical English press, where the flashbulb of the paparazzi perpetually blinds. A saga made by his own solicitation.

That is why he is faced with the constant questioning of his future and why Liverpool have had to erect a barricade between themselves and reality, with manager Brendan Rodgers yet to speak to the media this preseason. That is why Suarez should, while still an employee, remain publicly committed to Liverpool.

Alas, he refuses to, and keeps South American journalists in a job with his talk of phone calls and destiny. Yet nothing has happened, and nothing looks likely to happen yet -- it is the transfer window’s version of "Waiting for Godot", a footballing drama in which there is all dialogue, no action and little point. Nothing to be done, nothing is being done.

And so words from Suarez, mistranslated or not, start to lose their impact until they bring consequences. Liverpool and their supporters are at varying stages of the Kubler-Ross grief model regarding Suarez’s supposed departure -- denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance -- but a sixth now emerges: complete and utter apathy.

A cynical mind would suggest this is his intention. If Suarez is to depart, then it is easier to do so from an untenable position. The notion of Suarez being respected if he admitted his desire for Champions League football largely ignores the reaction both Michael Owen and Fernando Torres have endured since leaving the club.

With both Owen and Torres, reaction was so raw because their Liverpool careers were still so warm and their departures too quick to fully fathom. Torres scored twice at Wolves eight days before moving to Chelsea, while Owen was a substitute in the same week he became a Real Madrid player.

Suarez, however, has already felt like a marathon. Fingers ache, brows dampen further, sighs battle the Mersey for aural supremacy; July is only 10 days old, yet this is very much trodden ground already.

Before a growth is removed, the surrounding skin is frozen, numbed of any pain. The issue for Liverpool is that Suarez is no growth to be carefully removed and casually discarded, but their best player, the type of player they must retain if they want to challenge for the top four this coming season. While most get bored of Suarez's posturing and the numbness begins to settle, Rodgers and others in the hierarchy have to deliberate a summer -- and season -- both with and without the Uruguayan.

They are aware of what Suarez’s incessant chatter means -- as evidenced by their talk with Suarez’s agent, Pere Guardiola -- but they are also aware that no formal transfer request has been received. Until that happens, all talk of ultimatums, deadlines and take-it-or-leave-it negotiation should cease. The initiative is still with Liverpool, as is the player's contract.

Liverpool's main task is to prepare for the inevitable, whether that is this summer, next January or beyond. They must ensure that Suarez’s replacements are readied so his absence is not met with too much sorrow, though he is doing a good enough job of that himself. Given his mesmerising ability with a football at his feet, that is some feat in itself.

Eventually, it will happen. Maybe not today, probably not tomorrow, possibly not even this season. But there will come a time when Suarez leaves Liverpool. If this summer continues as it has begun and Suarez keeps talking, there may even be a time when nobody really cares.

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