Oh Luis, what are we going to do with you?
There are few words capable of describing the shock and confusion felt on Tuesday afternoon, when reports emerged Luis Suarez had done the unthinkable, and taken a bite out of a fellow professional for the third time in his career.
The pictures that followed confirmed our worst fears – Luis had indeed lost the plot once more.
And today FIFA announced the punishment of a four month worldwide football ban, meaning the 27-year-old will miss the rest of the World Cup, and the first nine games of Liverpool’s Premier League season.
The media fallout that has followed has been expected – everyone has had their say on Liverpool’s star man.
One thing is for certain, and that is that Suarez needs to seek professional help.
There are those who are quick to condemn him for what he has done, and rightly so. But those of us who have watched him week in, week out for the past three-and-a-half years, who have researched his background and read countless stories on the man’s character – understand there is clearly more to it.
Suarez has a desire to win like no other footballer – in many ways it is what sets him apart as one of the world’s best. But it also leads to moments of inexcusable madness when things are not going his way, and whilst the Aristotle quote: ‘No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness’ is true, you get the feeling our star man may have gone too far this time.
You can’t help but feel for Reds boss Brendan Rodgers, who worked so hard to keep Suarez at Anfield 12 months ago, and set about working to turn his public image around.
And what is so disappointing about this latest incident, is that up until a week ago Suarez was on the right path. Now the Uruguayan is set to miss another nine matches following his latest moment of madness – which once completed will bring a total of 29 games missed for the Reds through suspension since his arrival in January 2011.
His 31 Premier League goals for the Reds last season saw him awarded every accolade going, however after his two goal performance against England, he felt he needed to label the victory as ‘retribution’ against those in England who had criticized him for his past misdemeanors.
Less than a week later, Suarez has made those already foolish quotes look simply ridiculous, with his outrageous and unprovoked attack on Giorgio Chiellini.
Reds legend Phil Thompson believes he has brought shame upon the club with his actions, whilst Brendan Rodgers must be regretting the way in which he spoke of his star striker at the end of a season in which Liverpool achieved a second placed finish and a return to the Champions League.
“I think everybody knows the struggles he had in the last year. It has been incredibly difficult for him,” Rodgers said last month.
“But rehabilitation is always respected in the country – people who want to change for the better and he is certainly someone that was at a real low point at the end of the last season.
“I know that better than anyone. It was a real, real difficult period for him but he went away and, after a difficult summer, the power of Liverpool and the club that it is convinced him to stay.
“Once we got the season under way, he concentrated on his football and we’ve had a number of outstanding players this season but Luis Suarez has been incredible.
“For me, he has challenged me every day of my life, he’s done everything that you would need to do at the top level of the game as a player.
“And what people don’t see is that he is a very intelligent man. He is a winner when he crosses the line, but with great intelligence.
“I know for however long I am at Liverpool, whenever I leave I will have become a better manager and a better person because of Luis Suarez and for that I thank him so much.”
Rodgers was exceptional in dealing with Suarez after his bite on Ivanovic just over a year ago, using the unfortunate incident as an opportunity to improve not only his star forward, but himself as a manager.
The Ulsterman has every reason to feel let down by Suarez, even though this latest incident did not happen under his watch.
Suarez – similarly to 12 months ago – has been quietly looking to engineer a move to either Barcelona or Real Madrid this summer, using family members to plant seeds, and agents to openly flirt with the Spanish giants.
The fact he signed a long term contract extension at Anfield only six months ago, and at the back end of the season claimed he would be going nowhere this summer, means the recent reports have left something of a bitter taste in supporters mouths.
How much truth there is in them remains to be seen, and the ban imposed by FIFA is sure to see his value decrease significantly.
It is a huge blow for the Reds to lose their star man to another long suspension, and the supporters and the club have every right to feel thoroughly let down.
However you can’t help after his latest controversy that Suarez needs Liverpool, and particularly Brendan Rodgers more than ever.
There is a school of thought that suggests Suarez is simply too much of a liability to keep around, having proven he is incapable of preventing those moments of insanity in front of the watching world.
With all the backing Liverpool have afforded him, the flirting with La Liga’s finest and the latest controversy does feel like something of a slap in the face.
But you cannot deny that any club in the world would rather have Luis Suarez playing for them than against them, as any Liverpool supporters who witnessed his display against England will testify.
Whilst Suarez may harbour an ambition to play at either Real Madrid or Barcelona, the way in which Brendan Rodgers brought the best out of him last season leads you to believe Liverpool is still the best place for him.
Whilst the latest bite has made him a hate figure amongst fans across the world, his goals and performances for the Reds mean he is still adored by most at Anfield.
If Suarez stays, and gets the right help, you feel Brendan Rodgers could be the man best equipped to saving the forward from destroying his career further.
The Liverpool boss has spoken of his desire to improve his team not only as players, but as people, and there is no doubt Suarez represents the biggest test in that department in world football.
Rodgers has never been one to shirk away from a challenge, and the self-belief he has in his managerial abilities will surely see him attempt to revive the fortunes of the club’s flawed genius. The rewards if done right, are there for all to see.
Rodgers is facing the biggest season of his career, with the added pressure of Champions League football. A player of Suarez’s ability – a player who managed 31 goals and 12 assists last season – is virtually irreplaceable, no matter whether players with the quality of Alexis Sanchez and Xherdan Shaqiri were to arrive.
The way in which Rodgers inspired Suarez to recover from the Ivanovic incident 12 months gives you hope the same can be done again, and whilst the latest bite is a shocking setback, Liverpool’s boss and the supporters are surely not ready to give up on Luis just yet.