Luis Suarez has been one of the best strikers in world football over the past decade… but controversy has never been too far away.
The 33-year-old has been prolific at some of the top clubs in Europe, amassing an incredible club record of 427 goals in just 663 games.
Luis Suarez joined Atletico Madrid last summer and has netted nine goals this seasonGetty Images – Getty
He’s also won dozens of trophies, most of which came during his spell with Barcelona – the headline club of an illustrious career on the pitch, which also included Liverpool.
But his career has also been somewhat marred by incidents involving biting, racism – and that infamous handball at the 2010 World Cup.
Suarez appeared cruelly axed by Barcelona last summer when told he was no longer needed by the club and he could leave a minimal fee.
It felt like a cold ending for someone who takes his place in Barca’s record books as the club’s third highest goalscorer in history having won four LaLiga titles, four Copas del Rey and the Champions League.
Suarez joined Atletico for just £5.5m last summer – it’s proven a fine bit of businessGetty Images – Getty
His close friend, and Barca legend, Lionel Messi laid into the Catalans over the way they treated Suarez upon his exit from Camp Nou.
He said: “You deserved a farewell befitting who you are: one of the most important players in the history of the club, achieving great things for the team and on an individual level.
“You did not deserve for them to throw you out like they did. But the truth is that at this stage nothing surprises me any more.”
After a failed attempt to join Juventus amid accusations he tried to cheat to gain Italian citizenship, Suarez ended up heading to Barca’s LaLiga rivals Atletico Madrid.
And he could exact perfect revenge on Barcelona by beating them to the Spanish title this season.
Messi and Suarez are known for being close friends as well as former teammatesGetty Images – Getty
Unsurprisingly, the Uruguayan has become the main man at Atletico this season scoring nine times in only 12 league appearances.
He is one of the top scorers in LaLiga with Diego Simeone’s side in a great place to take the title.
They are one point clear of rivals Real Madrid and four ahead of Barcelona with a remarkable three games in hand.
It would perhaps be a fitting storyline for a player who has been followed throughout his entire career by drama and controversy.
Luis Suarez’s career controversies
June 2010 – Handball incident in World Cup quarter-final against Ghana
November 2010 – First biting incident on PSV’s Otman Bakkal. Banned for seven games
October 2011 – Found to have racially abused Patrice Evra. Banned for eight games
April 2013 – Second biting incident this time on Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. Banned for ten games
June 2014 – Third biting incident, this one at the World Cup on Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini. Banned for four months
August 2020 – Told by Barcelona he is no longer needed
September 2020 – Accused of trying to cheat on Italian citizenship test. Juventus move collapses
That controversy started in 2010 when he was guilty of biting one of his opponents while playing for Ajax.
He bit PSV’s Otman Bakkal and was subsequently suspended for seven games but that didn’t stop him doing it another two times over his career.
While at Liverpool in 2013, he did the same thing to Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic and got a ten-game ban. Even then Prime Minister David Cameron called on the FA to take a tough stance on the serial offender.
Less than a year late at the 2014 World Cup, he sunk his teeth into the shoulder of Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini and was then suspended from all football for four months by FIFA.
Suarez was hit with a four-month ban from all football worldwide for biting Chiellini in a World Cup matchGetty Images – Getty
It is not only biting that has got Suarez in trouble at World Cups as Ghana can attest to after they were wronged at the 2010 tournament in South Africa.
The striker made himself a national hero in Uruguay hero and a villain to the rest of the world in the quarter-final.
Late into extra-time, the striker saved the ball with his hands to deny Ghana a certain goal that would have taken them through to an historic semi-final.
Suarez was sent off but Asamoah Gyan blasted the resulting penalty against the crossbar with Uruguay going on to win the shootout 4-2.
The striker was seen celebrating wildly when Gyan missed the spot kick before heading down the tunnel.
After the match, Suarez said he had ‘made the save of the tournament’ and also insisted he would have done the same thing again.
You could easily argue he is one of the ultimate competitors who wants to win at all costs.
World Cup iconic moments:
02 July, 2010
Soccer City, Johannesburg
Luis Suarez broke Ghanaian hearts as Uruguay won on penalties to secure their place in the @FIFAWorldCup semi-finals in 2010. pic.twitter.com/LvjHkDK7XN
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) May 29, 2018
He plays the game to the limit and who can forget the time he once tried to claim a handball against the Chilean goalkeeper while on international duty in 2019?
The controversies surrounding Suarez did not put Liverpool off signing him from Ajax in January 2011, even though he was still suspended from football.
The Reds paid £22.5million and it proved to be money well spent as he notched 82 goals in 133 games, including one Premier League Golden Boot.
Luis Suárez appealing for a handball, and penalty because Chile’s keeper handled it in the box pic.twitter.com/wCm1ROLNpQ
— Photos of Football (@photosofootball) June 25, 2019
But many fans will remember the incident involving Patrice Evra at the start of the 2011/12 season.
After a two-month investigation into claims the Uruguay forward racially abused the former Manchester United defender, Suarez was given an eight-game ban by the Football Association.
A day after he was found guilty of misconduct for using insulting words to Evra, including a reference to his skin colour, Liverpool wore ‘Suarez 7’ T-shirts as they warmed up for their Premier League game against Wigan – a decision the club are still criticised for.
Evra has since revealed he received a personal apology from Liverpool over their handling of the 2011 Luis Suarez racism case.
Luis Suarez was banned for racially abusing Patrice Evragetty
The Premier League title eluded Suarez at Liverpool despite coming agonisingly close and a move to Barcelona eventually went through in 2014 for £64.98million.
It proved to be the right career move at the right time as he formed the deadly ‘MSN’ partnership alongside Messi and Neymar.
The attacking trio finished with a combined 122 goals in his first season as they won the treble.
Three more league titles would come his way before Ronald Koeman decided he was no longer needed at the club.
The 33-year-old was set to join Juventus last summer but the move collapsed due to passport complications.
To make matters worse, reports suggested he was facing fraud allegations over claims he cheated on an Italian test that was needed to obtain a passport.
But while Juventus lost out, Atletico were the winners of this situation and it’s fair to say they are reaping the benefits and he could come back to haunt Barcelona.
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