For all his gifts as a footballer, subtle communication has never been Luis Suarez’s forte.
Just ask Patrice Evra or Branislav Ivanovic about that.
Nevertheless, as he seeks to leave Liverpool this summer, the club’s Uruguay forward is at least deserving of an audience.
Suarez, of course, is one of the Barclays Premier League’s pantomime villains. The words the FA found him guilty of uttering to Evra almost two years ago and the attempt to bite a chunk out of Ivanovic’s arm last season have made sure of that.
He is also an exceptionally talented footballer. Without his goals last season, Liverpool’s campaign would have ground to a halt long before their eventual seventh-place finish.
No wonder, then, that Suarez has spent much of the summer wondering if his career is about to head down a blind alley at Anfield.
The disingenuous nature of Suarez’s comments when seeking to explain his discontentment has been irksome. By claiming he has been persecuted by the English media, Suarez has invited ridicule.
This should not be allowed to mask the real issue here — and that is that Liverpool do not look like a club capable of giving the 26-year-old what he needs or wants on the field.
To put it bluntly, Suarez is a first-rate centre forward, comparable with all but the very best. Liverpool’s team do not match up and it is this — rather than his portrayal in the sports pages — that lies at the heart of his dilemma.
Liverpool supporters and their progressive manager Brendan Rodgers call for loyalty from Suarez and that’s understandable. Rodgers and, before him, Kenny Dalglish, have spent time supporting, educating and counselling a player who has brought the club unwanted attention on too many occasions.
Suarez, though, is just like any other footballer. He judges his career not by looking over his shoulder but by staring straight ahead and evaluating his opportunities. Currently, Suarez could argue that these are not growing.
When he arrived in the January of 2011, Liverpool had also bought Andy Carroll for £35million. The ownership of Boston’s Fenway Sports Group had just kicked in and the English game waited to see if one of its most important clubs would re-emerge as a genuine domestic force.
It hasn’t happened. This summer Rodgers has recruited the defender Kolo Toure on a free transfer from Manchester City, Sunderland’s goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and Spanish forwards Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto.
Rodgers, of course, is working within a clearly stated time-frame and budget. His is a project for the long term. Suarez, though, doesn’t wish to wait and we shouldn’t be surprised.
Heading towards his peak years, the South American craves Champions League football. All top players do.
Last season 12 points and three places separated Liverpool from the top four and, if anyone thinks they have a realistic chance of making up that deficit this time round, then they are peddling a line in optimism unfamiliar to most.
If there’s one thing that will satisfy a modern footballer almost as much as money or success, then it is immediate potential. When Suarez looks at the short term, he clearly doesn’t see that at Anfield and it is hard to argue.
Deep down, Rodgers won’t be surprised. Football has changed since the Premier League grew rich and opened its arms to waves of foreign players. As they arrived chasing the money and glamour of Europe’s most fashionable domestic league, all concepts of loyalty disappeared.
Suarez is not a Scouse commodity. He is a gun for hire, just like Robin van Persie, Emmanuel Adebayor and Fernando Torres.
Extravagantly gifted, these footballers are hired for their labour, not their loyalty. As such, nobody should be surprised when they turn their heads towards a brighter sun.
At Anfield, they continue to fight hard to keep their player and that is only right. Suarez has done his job since he arrived from Ajax — his Premier League goals tally stands at 38 — but Liverpool have been accommodating, steadfast employers.
What is more, to sell to Arsenal, of all clubs, would be to admit to a new place in the grand scheme of things. The Gunners, without a trophy in eight years, are not Real Madrid or Bayern Munich — two clubs who have also expressed quiet interest in Suarez — but one who only narrowly established themselves kings of their own postcode in north London last season.
Liverpool do not sell to Premier League rivals — and nor should they. As they seek to find a solution to their Suarez problem, though, Liverpool will surely understand that they must produce tangible evidence of progress very soon.
On Wednesday at Melbourne Cricket Ground, Liverpool played a game in front of 90,000 supporters. The sight of many of them with red and white scarves raised at kick-off was one of the more compelling of this hectic pre-season calendar.
Liverpool have to offer players such as Suarez more than tradition and fanfare, though.
They need to offer them hope and, as such, the solution to this issue is obvious. Suarez should agree to stay for one more season. If Liverpool and Rodgers flunk things, then he should be sold with their blessing next summer.
After all he has put them through in two and a half years, Suarez perhaps owes his club one more push. No more than that, though.