RIO DE JANEIRO – Ultimately, money trumps all in soccer, and so it will be apparently again this week as Luis Suarez moves closer to a nine-figure transfer to the club of his dreams, FC Barcelona.
It was just 10 days ago that Suarez tainted Uruguay’s 1-0 victory over Italy and resulting qualification for the World Cup’s round of 16 by sinking his teeth into the shoulder of defender Giorgio Chiellini.
It is just over a week since he was banned from all soccer-related activity for four months by FIFA and his name will be forever associated with this World Cup for all the wrong reasons.
Yet here he is at center stage once again, with Barcelona having seemingly overcome any concerns about his odd, perverse, sickening habit of biting people during the course of a soccer game, something he has now been caught doing on three separate occasions.
English newspapers are reporting that Suarez’s current team, Liverpool, has held constructive talks with Barcelona and a deal that would either see $100 million-plus change hands, or involve a lower figure with one or more players thrown in, has been discussed.
Yahoo Sports has learned from a source close to the negotiations that the framework for an agreement may even be concluded by the end of the weekend, if both clubs decide that a straight cash settlement is the best way to proceed.
Even then though, it's likely that a formal announcement could be delayed until the end of the World Cup.
Another reason for a potential delay is if the deal involves Alexis Sanchez, the outstanding Chile international who had a superb World Cup but looks set to leave Barcelona. Liverpool sees Sanchez as a natural fit to replace Suarez and would be prepared to accept a lower fee If the exchange includes him.
Sanchez has yet to make a firm decision on where he sees his future, although early indications are he would be reluctant to go to Liverpool and may seek to move elsewhere.
But either way, Suarez is going to get paid and it now seems certain that he will depart the club that he nearly took to a surprise English Premier League title victory last season.
Liverpool shattered their own structure to give him an annual salary of $17.8 million a year ago, but a switch to Barca will increase that even further.
How can it be? How can one of the world’s greatest clubs, one that takes its image to the bank, be prepared to accept a serial proponent of a foul and infantile action?
[Related video: Suarez bite more likely than shark bite?]
It all speaks to Suarez’s ability. As flawed as his character may be, his brilliance with a soccer ball at his feet is just as strong. As Barcelona seeks to erase memories of a disappointing season that saw it miss out on Spain’s La Liga and the Champions League titles, its foremost priority is to bolster its squad with a unique talent.
Suarez is certainly that; his near single-handed effort in carrying Liverpool last season is proof.
And with FIFA’s ban being flexible enough to still permit him to take a medical exam while serving his playing ban, any remaining obstacles seem to be shifting out of the way.
In realty, Suarez’s “punishment” for bite-gate is nothing more than an extended summer vacation and a fun little boost in salary.
If it doesn’t seem right to you, that’s because it’s not. But it’s soccer, where winning trumps morality and money trumps all.
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- FC Barcelona