Ultimate summer transfer targets: Luis Suarez

The controversial Uruguay international has made it clear he intends to leave England this summer but Europe's heavyweights are far from queuing up to take a £40 million gamble
By James Goldman

Biting Branislav Ivanovic's arm unquestionably accelerated Luis Suarez's journey down a path that could well end in an acrimonious divorce, but the prospect of Liverpool spending the close season fighting to keep the Uruguayan was on the horizon long before his latest transgression.

Retaining Suarez, let alone adding to their diminishing pool of world class talent, was always going to be a challenge without the carrot of Champions League football to offer.

The prospect of dining at Europe's top table for a first time since 2009 was, at best, remote by the turn of the year, at which point the former Ajax forward was already understood to be considering his future.

Liverpool might have offered their talisman unwavering, and at times ill-advised, support throughout the race storm with Manchester United's Patrice Evra, but in the Uruguayan's eyes he had repaid that moral debt by signing a new four-year contract back in the summer of 2012, and with a series of stellar displays that had gone a significant way to restoring a damaged reputation that had, at one point, appeared beyond repair.

A move in January was never a realistic possibility, but with Manchester City already casting admiring glances and their then manager Roberto Mancini confiding in those closest to him an appreciation of Suarez's quality, a summer saga was already firmly in the making.

Suarez has been heavily linked with Real Madrid this week, but fans here seem unsure he is the type of player they need.

Madridistas are aware of his quality, of course, yet many would prefer an out-and-out No.9 to replace the hardworking Gonzalo Higuain.

With Suarez there is also an unsavoury element which we have seen at Liverpool, off-the-field distractions which Madrid fans can probably do without following three controversial years under Jose Mourinho.

So while they know they would be getting a great player, he is probably a little way down the fans' list of preferred strikers. Edinson Cavani, Robert Lewandowski and even Wayne Rooney would probably all be more welcome with most Madrid fans at the moment.

- Ben Hayward | Goal International
Despite the growing uncertainty over his future, the goals, plaudits and even respect continued to flow in Suarez's direction to such an extent that he had emerged as a credible contender for the prestigious end of season personal gongs by the time he exploded any possibility of receiving such acclaim by sinking his teeth into Ivanovic's arm.

It is almost ironic that an incident which nobody could have foreseen has since triggered a chain of events that have surprised so few.  Predictably, Liverpool stuck rigidly by their man, while the Football Association, in keeping with their own muddled disciplinary procedures, threw the book at Suarez and handed down a 10-game ban – a punishment even more severe than the one he received for being found guilty of racially abusing Evra.

With Suarez out of sight but certainly not out of mind, Liverpool and Rodgers in particular launched a stinging criticism of the FA's actions, going as far to suggest that they had all but forced his star striker to up sticks and quit the Premier League.

"Each time he [Luis] makes a step forward we find ways to beat him with a stick and beat him down. I can understand if he felt like that [wanting to quit England] in a moment of reflection," said Rodgers in May.

Liverpool had wisely opted to keep Suarez on Merseyside until the end of the season, thus ensuring he was restricted to, at the very most, toeing the party line. Effectively muzzled for so long, it was inevitable that once he was released for international duty his predilection for chaos and attracting headlines would take over.

By claiming the relentlessly negative British press and David Cameron, of all people, had turned England into an unsuitable country in which to raise his family, Suarez effectively handed in a transfer request and trampled all over many of those who stood by him when it would have been easier to cast him aside.

Liverpool maintain the player is not for sale - they have little option but to do so - but they will at least take solace from the fact that Suarez has made it virtually impossible for himself to move to a Premier League rival and retain any semblance of credibility.

Unfortunately for Suarez, the list of clubs from abroad willing to take what would be an exceptionally expensive £40 million gamble on his temperament is far from a lengthy one.

7/1 Luis Suarez is 7/1 with BetVictor to join Bayern Munich this summer
Real Madrid have just removed the ultimate divisive character in Jose Mourinho from their dugout and Florentino Perez's recent comments suggest he is unsure as to whether an ego-filled dressing room is a suitable environment for someone of Suarez's mindset.

"Suarez is a great player and I am sure every team in the world would want him. I like him and others too, but it does not always fit," said Perez, who was re-elected last week.

Bayern Munich, meanwhile, soon to be managed by Pep Guardiola, the brother of Suarez's agent Pere, have already invested £35m in Mario Gotze and are primed to bolster their striking department with the Germany international's former Borussia Dortmund team-mate Robert Lewandowski.

Barcelona's forward line was already top-heavy with talent before their high-profile purchase of Neymar, while the two free-spending French juggernauts, Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco, are yet to register any form of interest and are far from certain to do so.

Liverpool, for their part, are already exploring alternative avenues should a suitable offer materialise, with Udinese's Luis Muriel and Manchester City's Carlos Tevez  both on Rodgers' wish list.

But with last season's 23-goal man short of options, if not admirers, it would not be unduly surprising if Liverpool remained locked in the most complex of marriages past the close of the summer transfer window on August 31. 

Either way, expect Suarez's name to remain a constant in the great transfer merrygoround this summer.

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