It’s the perfect footballing enigma: a brilliant player who resorts to cheating when he doesn’t need to.
And Luis Suarez is a brilliant footballer. The Uruguayan is a pure goal scoring machine, who has just about every tool a top quality striker needs.
He can score with both feet and his head, has great speed, movement off the ball and in link-up play, and his finishing record is outstanding – 30 goals in 64 games for Liverpool, an impressive 81 in 110 appearances for Ajax before that and a phenomenal 30 goals in 60 internationals for Uruguay.
The man always finds a path to goal.
So why does the Red’s No 7 attract controversy like Silvio Berlusconi? Why is his rap sheet like football’s version of Chopper Read?
Suarez’s latest indiscretion, a handball-assisted winner against minnows Mansfield in the FA Cup, is the just the latest (see the video below).
The 25-year old has had many controversies, including: head-butting a referee at 15, picking up a ton of yellow and red cards in both Holland and England, a half-time altercation with Ajax teammate Albert Luque which resulted in suspension, punching the ball at the 2010 World Cup which knocked out Ghana from the competition, biting (yes biting) a PSV player in 2010, racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra in 2011, then avoiding shaking Evra’s hand, being accused of simulation numerous times, giving the finger to Fulham fans in December 2011.
Suarez is the ultimate player who will do anything for his team, anything for a goal or to help his side win. For that reason he is loved by his club’s supporters, and teammates, and despised by most others.
Bending, and indeed, breaking the rules and the subsequent consequences in this single-minded pursuit seems of little concern to him.
You would have to gather that this is a side-effect of his tough upbringing in Uruguay. Suarez learned to play football on the streets, is one of seven children and was raised by his single mother. Poverty has understandably given him a different outlook.
According to one story, he was invited to a youth national team training camp but couldn’t attend as he couldn’t afford football boots.
The forward from Salto has had to claw and fight his way to the top of world football. The ‘do whatever it takes’ mentality is all he knows.
But enough is enough. It’s time somebody pulled him aside and said that these kinds of antics – deliberate hand-balls, biting, diving, committing dangerous fouls and the rest – is not on.
The sad fact is that Liverpool won’t discipline him, they continue to cajole and support him. In one way it’s not surprising. Without Suarez, Liverpool would be stuffed.
He is their star player and if you take out his goals and all-round impact, they are an average team and would probably be hovering around the relegation zone, not sitting in eighth place on the table. For that reason Suarez can get away with anything.
The Uruguayan will eventually leave Merseyside for greener pastures but until then the Reds sit in fear of alienating him, so he gets a free pass.
The even sadder fact that is Suarez doesn’t need to resort to these tactics. He is one of the best players in the world. He has dominated Dutch football, set alight the English Premier League, helped Uruguay win the Copa America and starred at a FIFA World Cup.
At 25 he has a long career ahead of him and potentially a lot of success. But his pantomime villain act only hurts him and the side he plays for.
Follow John on Twitter @johnnyddavidson