MatchDay Memory: Luis Suarez Then and Now Part III
Imagine a time in the distant future when a player named Luis Enrique joins FC Barcelona or a new Hughes is signed by Manchester United. That player will inevitably be compared to their predecessor, with the shadow of former glory always hovering around the player. For Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz, who joined FC Barcelona in the summer of 2014, not only was he not the first Luis Suarez to have played for the Blaugrana, but he will probably not be as successful in terms of trophies as his predecessor. On top of this, he also comes with his own unique baggage.
Part I Luis Suarez Miramontes
Part II Luis Alberto Suarez Diaz
In terms of perception, both on and off the field, it seems as if the players couldn’t be more different. Miramontes was a scorer but also helped supply big time names around him, and similarly Diaz scored goals and created space and opportunities for those around him. Miramontes’ trophy cabinet was bulging with club honors, but I noticed that Diaz has not won many honors with clubs he has played for. Furthermore, teams continued to win without him, as Ajax has maintained their cycle of success without him and Nacional continued to win titles without him. Liverpool is Liverpool and are an outlier.
Off the field, I could find almost nothing on the original Luis Suarez, while the current namesake has a laundry list of controversial episodes. Part of the reason for his move from Ajax to Liverpool was the seven game suspension he received for biting Otman Bakkal in an Eredivisie game. Then a year later he was found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra during an English Premier League game and missed eight league games. Eighteen months after that, a ten game suspension followed for a biting incident against Branislav Ivanovic. He came back from that and almost led Liverpool to the title before the 2014 World Cup. That competition saw yet another bite, this time on Giorgio Chiellini of Italy, for which he was suspended worldwide for four months.
Despite a long list of offenses and despite FC Barcelona trying to occupy the moral high ground, the club went through with a transfer for the Uruguyan in the summer of 2014, concluding one of the most expensive deals of all time. I was against the move on sporting and moral grounds. From a sporting perspective, I didn’t see how he would fit into the team and there were greater needs that the club should have addressed, mainly in the defense. They started to reshape the backline with Mathieu and Vermaelen coming in, but more work needed to be done. As for the attack, the club got rid of Sanchez, Cuenca, Bojan and Tello, and brought in Suarez and promoted Sandro and Munir.
Barca’s problems last year were breaking down compact defenses. With no service from the wings and a bunch of wonderfully gifted midgets trying to pass through nine and ten players, attack after attack broke down and actually set up counters for other teams. Adding Suarez doesn’t help. Suarez, Messi and Neymar. All great players, but there’s only one ball. I think Messi should be moved back out to the wing and an E’too replacement of the 2006-2009 vintage found.
Then there’s the morality aspect. This player has bitten at least three people. He has racially abused an opponent. He has received one of the harshest bans ever from FIFA for this latest incident at the World Cup. Why is the club signing this guy? Rob Brown on the Barca Blaugranes site for SB Nation reduces it to its simplest explanation: on the field success.
The current Luis Suarez has a lot to live up to when compared to El Arquitecto. Who knows what will happen on the field. After reading Wright Thompson’s profile of Luis Suarez Diaz again, I have no idea if the Uruguayan will keep his teeth to himself. And how will this highly talented player mesh with an astonishing array of attacking talent? Whereas the Spanish Suarez became an orchestrating midfielder, a precursor to Xavi and Iniesta, El Pistolero will have find his way in an attacking group of Messi, Neymar and Pedro while pushing young, rising stars like Munir, Sandro and Adama and others to the bench or back to Barca B.