Liverpool face task to replace Suarez after he signs for Barcelona
The details of Luis Suarez's transfer from Liverpool to Barcelona were finalised yesterday as he moved to Spain for an estimated fee of £75m in spite of the Uruguayan striker serving a four-month ban for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup.
The Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers, was honest in his assessment of losing such a high-quality player, saying: "If there is one thing the history of this great club teaches us, it is that Liverpool FC is bigger than any individual." He added: "The club have done all they can over a sustained period of time to try to keep Luis at Liverpool."
Suarez paid tribute to the club and its supporters, while saying he had always wanted to play in Spain. "It is with a heavy heart that I leave Liverpool for a new life and new challenges in Spain," he said. "This club did all they could to get me to stay, but playing and living in Spain, where my wife's family live, is a lifelong dream and ambition. I believe now the timing is right."
His former captain Steven Gerrard took to Instagram to describe his feelings on the move: "On an emotional day for me would just like to say what a pleasure it has been playing with an amazing talent such as Luis. I would like to thank him for his outstanding contribution on the pitch during his time @liverpoolfc and to wish him and his family all the best on his new adventure in Spain. #lfclegend"
Rodgers' next headache will be to try to find someone to replace a striker of the calibre of Suarez, who scored 82 goals in 133 games for Liverpool. He has been linked with the Ivory Coast's Wilfried Bony, who is at Rodgers' former club Swansea City.
The Welsh club's chairman Huw Jenkins has accused Liverpool of approaching Bony without going through official channels but Anfield insists that is not the case.
Meanwhile, Suarez's lawyer has hit out at Fifa in scathing terms over the restrictions it has imposed on his client.
Alejandro Balbi confirmed an appeal would go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne after Fifa rejected the initial appeal against the ban, which included "all football-related activities".
It prohibits Suarez from going to matches, training and attending club functions. Barcelona issued a mock-up of his unveiling "wearing" the club shirt amid fears that they would not be allowed to do the real thing at the Nou Camp.
Balbi also bemoaned the fact that Suarez would not be allowed to join his Barça colleagues at their pre-season training camp at St George's Park in England. He told a Spanish radio station he hoped the CAS would "revoke this sanction that is blatantly draconian, totalitarian and fascist". He added: "The right of a footballer to work is being violated, and football should be worried about that. We knew that Fifa would uphold the ban because they are corporatists."
Should the CAS suspend the four-month ban now - while there are no games being played - pending the appeal, Suarez could be sidelined for more games if they decide the ban should be enforced and it restarts in the new season.