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International Soccer
By Tim Keeble, Soccer Editor - Archive - Email
When stupidity trumps talent
Luis Suarez Luis Suarez has garnered more attention for madness on the field than for outstanding play.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Talent sure is a funny thing. We spend much of our formative years trying to identify and cultivate it, and after we discover where we excel, it dictates our future career plans.

Talent that is honed and perfected is celebrated, while wasted talent is often viewed in a tragic light.

Liverpool forward Luis Suarez is someone who unfortunately can identify with both categories.

The Uruguayan is a magician with a soccer ball at his feet, capable of producing moments of brilliance from nothing.

He was instrumental in leading Uruguay to the semifinals of the 2010 World Cup, and since that time, he has established himself as one of the top forwards in the world.

Suarez leads the Premiership with 23 goals this season, yet he has garnered more attention for his moments of madness on the field than for his outstanding play.

Sadly, Suarez has a lot in common with former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, and not just a taste for human flesh.

Tyson was a force in the heavyweight division as a young champion in the late 1980s. But despite all of the dominance he exhibited inside the ring, there is a generation of fans who simply know Tyson as "the guy who bit someone's ear inside the ring."

Suarez is currently headed down the same path after his second biting incident occurred on Sunday against Chelsea defender Branislov Ivanovic.

Midway through the second half, Suarez gained possession of the ball inside the Chelsea penalty area, but had it poked away by Ivanovic.

But instead of trying to regain possession, Suarez turned and grabbed the defender's arm before delivering a healthy chop on his biceps.

Fortunately for Liverpool, the incident was not seen by match officials, and Suarez remained on the field, ironically scoring the tying goal with the final touch of the match in a 2-2 draw.

In a way, Sunday's game at Anfield perfectly sums up the best and worst of what Suarez has to offer.

He set up the tying goal for Daniel Sturridge with a perfectly placed cross in the 52nd minute, and then just five minutes later, gave away a penalty kick with a foolish handball inside his own box.

The bite on Ivanovic followed shortly after, but then he headed home the equalizer in the dying seconds to give the Reds a share of the spoils against a league rival.

With Liverpool currently in a state of rebuilding, a proven scorer like Suarez would be a great piece to build around, but his unpredictability makes him a liability at times when you consider his hefty wages.

The ridiculous part of Sunday's incident is that is wasn't the first time Suarez has been guilty of biting an opponent.

In 2010, as a member of Ajax, Suarez received a seven-match suspension for biting the neck of PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal as the referee stood just a few feet away.

But biting isn't the only issue Suarez needs to overcome.

He was banned for eight games following an incident of racist abuse against Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in December 2011, and compounded the problem by refusing to shake Evra's hand prior to a match between the sides a few months later.

Suarez will likely be suspended for the rest of Premiership season with Liverpool having four games remaining. But the question is whether or not the 26-year-old has played his final game in a Liverpool shirt.

There is reportedly interest in Suarez from other clubs around Europe, and Liverpool must decide whether the time is right to cut ties with its mercurial hitman, or continue to look the other way as he brings more shame to the club.

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre acknowledged after the incident that Suarez has a problem. Yet he also seemed more than willing to continue to give his striker more chances when asked if the biting of Ivanovic would have any impact on his future at Anfield.

"It affects his future in the sense that we have to work with him on his discipline, but Luis is a very important player to the club," Ayre said. "He's a very popular player with his teammates. As we keep saying, he signed a new four-year contract last summer, and we'd all love to see him here throughout that contract."

At some point, even the most talented people run out of chances.

It will be interesting to see how much time the considerable gifts of Suarez are able to buy him before his stupidity overtakes his talent.

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