Liverpool dilemma: what can club do with shamed Suarez?
As star striker faces huge ban the Reds could end up saddled with an unsellable pariah
As Luis Suarez sat on the turf in Brazil clutching his teeth as if to admonish them for the bite they had just inflicted on Giorgio Chiellini's shoulder, he must have known what was coming.
Watching in New York, where he is on holiday, Suarez's manager Brendan Rodgers must also have had that familiar sinking feeling. With so many of his players at the World Cup, Rodgers would have been worried about injuries and the unwanted attentions of other clubs, but surely he wasn't expecting another disciplinary meltdown from Suarez.
The Uruguayan's latest antics leave Liverpool in a cleft stick. The prospects of Suarez securing a big-money move away from the club appear to have been scuppered, and Liverpool may now be left with a footballing pariah on their hands. Can't live with him, can't get rid of him.
Before Tuesday night's game, Rodgers was preparing for a summer of rampant transfer speculation about his prize asset, but the worst outcome for Liverpool appeared to be the departure of their main striker for a transfer fee somewhere north of £60m.
As Spurs proved last season, cash is not always adequate recompense for the loss of a key player, but it would certainly have mitigated the blow and helped Rodgers continue his Anfield rebuilding process.
After Suarez's attempts to leave last summer, Liverpool appeared to have played the situation well, tying the Uruguayan to a new long-term contract that guaranteed them a bumper payout if he did decide to leave, while also making him feel part of the club, in an effort to ensure he wouldn't.
But ESPN was not alone in noticing what looked like "a well-planned media campaign to secure a big money move to La Liga" emerging during the World Cup.
But what now? "The question now is whether he has undermined his chances of joining either Barcelona or Real, with the two Spanish clubs having to decide whether signing such a recidivist would be worth the trouble," notes The Times.
Suarez has made himself unsignable, says the Daily Mirror. "With their image and moral code, Barca are unlikely to be able to pursue any interest in a player who has courted such public, global shame, and European champions Real too, will now think twice about their interest."
Back at Anfield, nobody has the will to defend the player any more. "Liverpool must now face up to the reality of his behaviour forever remaining uncontrollable, and the consequences that will bring for the club's image. And that will lead to some tough decisions in the boardroom," says the paper.
Fifa has the power to ban Suarez for two years or 24 games, and the punishment could be transferred to club as well as country.
"At what point is enough is enough and football begins to turn its back on Luis Suarez?" asks the Daily Mail. "Should he stay on Merseyside, he will be the subject of intense scrutiny, critics will be waiting for him to step out of line and ask how they can continue to offer support when he has besmirched their reputation."
Even in Liverpool opinions are split. A poll on the Liverpool Echo website asking whether the club should sell Suarez was split 50/50 at the time of writing.
Reporter Joe Rimmer told the paper that the club "should" sell Suarez, but his colleague James Pearce says the Reds are "determined to retain Suarez's services prior to this sorry episode and that remains the case".
He adds: "Regardless of how reprehensible his actions were, he is Liverpool's biggest asset and morals don't feature highly in the business of modern football." ·