Luis Suarez is one of the most controversial and scandal-ridden figures in soccer, a feat that isn’t easy to achieve with playboys like Wayne Rooney and Neymar in the running for such an illustrious title. In 2011, Suarez was fined £40,000 and banned for eight matches after directing racial slurs at Manchester United’s Patrice Evra during a league match. He’s also a biter: the first time he bared his teeth was in 2010 during a match against Eredivisie. At the 2014 World Cup, he managed to sink his chompers into Giorgio Chiellini during a match against Italy.
Regardless, he’s still one of the most sought-after players, and speculation abounds regarding his likely upcoming transfer from Liverpool to either Barcelona or Real Madrid. Here’s what you need to know about Luis Suarez’s possible transfer.
1. It Was Suarez’s Idea to Get Out of England
For both personal and professional reasons, Suarez was the one to initiate talk of him leaving Liverpool, rather than having been courted first and then considered the opportunity. Many South American players want the European pomp and circumstance of La Liga, and Suarez’s family has made no secret of their desire for him to leave the Premiere League. This June, his father-in-law said that “it is the right moment for him to make a switch,” that he had “proved everything at the Premier League and he has nothing more to prove there.” The comments set off a fury of criticism as many Liverpool fans took offense.
It’s also common knowledge that Suarez’s wife has family in Barcelona.
2. Liverpool Doesn’t Want to Let Him Go
Brendan Rogers, the Liverpool manager, had originally demanded a Premiere League record-setting fee to let go his best player. Suarez’s value is third only to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, generally considered the two best soccer players in the world. Before the World Cup biting incident, Suarez’s “worth” was valued at approximately $135 million to $157 million.
Even after the biting incident, however, Rogers announced that he would speak personally to Suarez and make the appeal for his best striker to stay with Liverpool. Rogers and team spokespeople have said repeatedly—even with all the controversy—that Suarez’s talent is worth the trouble and that they have no interest in fielding bids from any other club.
3. Suarez Has a Release Clause in His Contract
Liverpool fans aren’t new to the idea that Suarez wants out. He’s been trying to leave Anfield for a year now, though last time around Suarez was unable to leave because he was under contract. It was Arsenal who was then courting the Footballer of the Year, and they eventually lost the summer-long battle against Liverpool for Suarez.
This year, however, there’s a release clause in Suarez’s contract that will make it easier for any team who wants him to buy him—for a whopping £80 million (about $136 million). There’s been no announcement from either Barcelona or Madrid, however, that either would be willing to pay this exorbitant transfer fee to trigger the release clause.
4. He May Have Bitten to Get What He Wanted
Last summer there was speculation that Real Madrid was planning to court Suarez; this year it’s looking like it’s going to be Barcelona, if anyone. No matter which club Suarez wants to take him out of England, rumors have been flying since the infamous World Cup biting incident that he planned the bite so that Liverpool would let him go. His transfer fee has likely decreased after the incident, which would make him more appealing to either Spanish club.
If Suarez did orchestrate the bite in an attempt to woo La Liga, however, it could backfire. He could be handed down a heavy suspension sentence from FIFA for his behavior, which would clearly make him less of an asset. The reckless behavior could also jeopardize Uruguay’s chances in the World Cup—a seemingly selfish move to secure a club transfer.
5. It Could All Just Be Speculation
Suarez is, after all, king of FIFA rumors. A transfer isn’t guaranteed—neither Barcelona nor Real Madrid have made official entreaties to Suarez—and especially after his scandalous World Cup behavior, either team could decide that even Suarez’s world-class abilities aren’t worth the trouble.
Transferring now would also mean that Suarez was leaving Liverpool just as the team started to make some waves. With Rogers vowing that he won’t let Suarez go (and reports that Suarez reiterated his verbal commitment to the English club just before leaving for Brazil), all the rumors of Suarez’s transfer could be just that.