Villaflor: FC Barcelona adds bite to offense

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Thursday, July 17, 2014


THE Spanish grapevine has it that La Liga clubs not named FC Barcelona have advised their players to get anti-rabies shots.

This is in the wake of the Catalan club’s $127-million acquisition of Luis Suarez, the Uruguayan player with a penchant for biting whose latest infamy was sinking his teeth into the shoulder of an Italian defender during the recent World Cup.

The transfer from Liverpool, confirmed only a few days ago, has had some tongues wagging. Why would Barca, known for having level-headed players on and off the field, would sign-up a highly controversial figure with a real behavioral problem? Even an online gambling company found the Bitegate scandal morally reprehensible that it cancelled its sponsorship deal with the Uruguay’s version of Hannibal Lecter.

Upon Suarez’s suspension from football for four months, everyone thought that Barca ditched the negotiations faster than Suarez could smile and show his fangs. Well, it only took an apology from the striker to draw heaps of praise from the Catalan club’s higher-ups, who called the gesture as “honorable” and a show of “humility.” My tooth, er, foot.

The wisdom behind the signing has had observers gritting their teeth. For one, Suarez can’t even set foot inside a stadium, much train with Barcelona, in the next three months. What he’s going to do until his suspension ends on Oct. 26 is beyond Barca fans. The sanction is in addition to a nine-match ban from international football, apart from his suspension from the knockout stages of the World Cup that cost them
their chances.

Has Barca become this desperate to sign up a footballer who strikes fear in the hearts of opposing La Liga players for the wrong reasons?

Suarez is a serial biter with a knack for controversial stunts – the hand ball incident in the 2010 World Cup and an eight-game suspension with Liverpool over racial abuse allegations.

There is no question about Suarez’s abilities as a player, a goal-scoring machine who performs during big matches. The attacking potency of his partnership with Neymar and Lionel Messi up front will make any Barca fan drool. Still, this mix is untested.

And while it’s possible that the unstable Suarez can be tamed, there’s a bigger chance that Barca’s highly risky move would end up biting Barca in the ass.

(nsvillaflor@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 18, 2014.

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