To call Luis Suarez an enigma would be just scratching the surface of who he is, what he does, and what he represents. The man embodies brilliance and buffonery at the same time. He'll dazzle you with his performances on the pitch, then leave you SMHing all the way home. The Luis Suarez Story is made up of two parts, and neither is complete without the other. The man bites other players, gets into racism rows with opponents, and has seen more ill-willed ink spilled about him than most athletes in the world. Yet when he's playing for Liverpool FC—just playing, and not pulling some other shit—he can produce some of the most magical soccer you'll ever see. It's a simple question with a convoluted answer, but it must be asked: Luis Suarez: Badass or Jackass?
Written by Justin Block (@JBlock49)
Jackass: Taking FC Groningen to court to force his way out of town.
Badass: Being named as Ajax's captain at age 22.
Badass: Scoring six goals in one match.
Badass: His hand-ball in the World Cup.
Jackass: Biting Otman Bakkal in what ended up being his last act as Ajax's captain.
Badass: His domination of the Eredivisie.
Badass: Moves like this.
Badass: Winning MVP of the 2011 Copa América tournament.
Jackass: Flipping off Fulham fans.
Jackass: Calling Manchester United defender Patrice Evra a "negrito."
Badass: He's a family man
Jackass: Failing to shake Evra's hand in the wake of the racism incident.
Badass: Capping off his first Liverpool hat-trick in style.
Jackass: His dive against Stoke.
Badass: His goal celebration in David Moyes' face.
Jackass: He goes to ground too easily, too often.
Badass: This goal against Newcastle.
Jackass: Biting... Again
Badass: Carrying Liverpool on his back last season.
Badass: Making fun of his own past.
Jackass: Attempting to force a move to Arsenal.
When: Summer 2013
Last summer was a very, very, very tense time for Liverpool fans. The club had just finished the season in 7th place—27 points short of title winners Manchester United, and 12 points behind Arsenal for that coveted last Champions League spot. With no European cup competition lined up, it was no surprise to see Suarez agitate for a move to a more desirable club. Real Madrid? Fine. Bayern Munich? Sure. Those are teams capable of winning the European Cup. No Liverpool supporter would've batted an eye had Suarez demanded a transfer to a club of that quality, and said club had come forward with a reasonable bid.
To pique interest abroad, Suarez began calling into seemingly every Spanish-speaking sports radio show in the Western Hemisphere to voice his displeasure over the English media, paparazzi, and disrespectful fans. Given the turmoil he had caused during his short stay in England, his frustration and his desire to jump on the next jet to continental Europe was understandable. Liverpool would receive a nice fat transfer check in excess of £40 million to reinvest into the squad, and Suarez could start fresh elsewhere. Yet when it became clear that Bayern wasn't interested in Suarez, and that Madrid had opted for Gareth Bale's signature instead (it's widely speculated that Madrid valued Bale's ability and his clean-cut image over Suarez's rap sheet), Suarez and his agents began running amuck.
Arsenal came in with a £40,000,001 bid for Suarez (the extra £1 was supposed to activate his "release clause"), which was swiftly rejected. The Suarez camp believed that any bids over £40 million could trigger an automatic transfer barring the player's permission, and they most likely leaked that confidential contract information to Arsenal to incite a move. When the lawyers dug through Suarez's contract and found that any bids over £40 million only forced Liverpool to inform Suarez of an offer and not to necessarily accept one, the #FreeSuarez campaign took off.
Like every day, a new and exclusive Suarez interview popped up in the papers. Suarez said that he had a chance to move the previous summer, but declined it after Liverpool fed him a fat new contract and a goodwill promise that they'd let him move on if they didn't finish top four in the upcoming Premiership season. Liverpool owner John Henry confirmed that those discussions happened, but refused to sell Suarez, citing that it was too late in the transfer window for Liverpool to properly retool with new signings following a move of that magnitude, and that, um, ARSENAL IS LIVERPOOL'S DIRECT TOP FOUR RIVAL. He was a bit more blunt with his words though:
What do you think they're smoking over there at Emirates?
— John W. Henry (@John_W_Henry) July 24, 2013
Suarez ended up staying and apologizing to his teammates for being a fucking asshole, but Liverpool supporters don't hold him highly in the "Moral Integrity" and "Loyalty" standings anymore *cues to Branislav Ivanovic, Patrice Evra, Fulham supporters, Otman Bakkal, and the entire Dutch city of Groningen nodding*. Liverpool blindly stood by his side through the multiple shitstorms he caused, and he wanted to move to godforsaken Arsenal—a perennial "Good, But Not Good Enough" pseudo title-contender and a team that hasn't won a trophy since 2005. It'd be like Mark Zuckerberg quitting Facebook to go run Tinder, or something. In the eyes of Liverpool fans, Suarez nearly became Fernando Torres 2.0/Judas this summer, and that stink hasn't entirely worn off yet.