Sure, throwing 40m (if not more) at the racistly bitey Uruguayan would signal that we’re serious about contending in this, that, or the other campaign. However, consider this: he’s already guaranteed to miss nearly 16% of the upcoming Prem season, and that’s without considering any future offenses against common decency. I found myself wishing we still lived in the 1950s or thereabouts, when we were completely, blissfully ignorant of an athlete’s indiscretions. Not a family man? Snorting cocaine? Using PEDs? We’d hear of none of these issues. Suarez, however, is an entirely different beast, as all (?) of his indiscretions (man, is that ever euphemistic) have occurred on the pitch. Diving. Stomping. Biting. Hand-balling. Racism-ing.
I’ll grant that he can score goals. However, he has yet to prove that he can deliver victories. It’s one thing to score 23 league goals; it’s quite another to actually carry a team. According to this report from the BBC, Liverpool would have finished exactly where it did with or without Suarez: 7th. Despite accounting for nearly 38% of his club’s goals, he’s only “earned” abotut 18% of Liverpool’s points. There’s a bit of a “me-first” mentality at work here, through which Suarez is more than willing to score goals, but his ability to actually carry a team to victory remains to be seen.
We already know he’s going to miss the first six Prem League games. On paper, these are already eminently winnable matches, which would make his absence from the squad all the more vital. Put simply, we should be able to use these matches to help new additions get comfortable because the stakes are lower than they might be if we were facing the Manchesters or Chelsea. Suarez’s absence, therefore, prevents him from getting to know his new teammates in real time, thereby delaying a smooth transition.
All of this is predicated, by the way, on the notion that (a) he might somehow learn to completely change his behavior, or (b) Arsène can somehow corral him. I don’t really see either one happening. Instead, I see a man who signs a record-breaking contract and thinks to himself, “see? I was right. I was persecuted unfairly by the media. Nothing I have done or will do is actually wrong if a club like Arsenal is willing to spend on me as they have spent”. The man would come in vindicated and emboldened, and I fear that he would therefore go on to commit some other morally indefensible act. In fact, I all but guarantee he will, wherever he ends up.
If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is, in all likelihood, a duck. We’ve seen enough from Suarez to this point to make some similarly accurate predictions. He’ll probably go on to score 20 league goals (but Walcott, Giroud, Cazorla, and Podolski may be stifled), but he’ll almost certainly do something head-slappingly stupid that will cost us progress in a league cup, FA Cup, Champions League, or Prem League championship. Despite his inarguable talent, this is not a price I’m willing to pay. He’s not worth it. Literally and figuratively.