Scottish Daily Mail


- reports from Sao Paulo MATT LAWTON

NOBODY ever laughed at Luis Suarez, because racial abuse just isn’t funny and nor, for that matter, is biting an opponent. Diving and cheating? No. That’s not terribly amusing, either. So quite what Suarez meant when he suggested ‘people in England laughed’ about his ‘attitude over the last few years’ is anybody’s guess.

All that can be said is that the Uruguay striker was utterly humourless when he spoke to the assembled British media in a corner of the postmatch interview area here in Sao Paulo on Thursday night.

He was cold, impassive. Nothing like the man we had just seen kiss his physiother­apist on the head before blubbing in the dugout.

No, after a shower and an encounter with doping control this was now payback time. This was a chance to settle a score by delivering a not-so polite ‘up yours’ to his adopted home.

Which was a pity given how prepared most, i f not all, observers were to acknowledg­e his brilliance. To acknowledg­e the sheer force of will he displayed in almost singlehand­edly destroying England’s hapless defence.

We knew he was a world- class talent. It was why he was crowned the best player in the Barclays Premier League by both his peers and the Press. But to perform at that level only weeks after he was being pushed around in a wheelchair was nothing short of incredible. An achievemen­t that commanded respect.

Sadly, that respect does not seem to go both ways, and this is not about the media – which is actually an irrelevanc­e — but about his colleagues at Anfield, the people of Liverpool and beyond. The people who were prepared to forgive and forget and recognise that here was someone who addressed the issues that needed addressing and became a better player, indeed a better man, as a result.

Now you have to question just how genuine he was. You start to question a number of things he has said in recent months and wonder whether the real Suarez has just resurfaced.

The same Suarez who was agitating for a move away from Liverpool l ast year. Who even resorted to questionin­g the honesty and integrity of his manager, Brendan Rodgers.

Only last month he said he was committed to remaining with the side that went so close to winning the Barclays Premier League title. That he signed his new contract l ast December because he was now totally committed to the Anfield cause.

‘I signed the contract because I love it here and I’m so happy here,’ he said. ‘If you’re not happy here, you don’t sign any contract.’

Before Liverpool’s players went their separate ways for the summer he also told them he was going nowhere.

Steven Gerrard was of the view Suarez would give Liverpool at least one more season, saying as much recently.

But is Suarez being duplicitou­s? Does he still consider himself the victim of the Patrice Evra race storm, for example? It would seem so given his insistence, only last February, that the accusation­s were ‘false’.

More worrying still for Liverpool fans is the apparent disregard for the reception he is sure to receive after making his remarks. The suspicion must be that he does not fear the inevitable hostility because he has no intention of returning to England unless his new team are competing in the Champions League.

Yesterday, the Spanish newspapers were dominated by speculatio­n regarding Suarez. The hierarchy at Real Madrid were thought to have been encouraged by Suarez’s postmatch comments, sensing there might now be a chance to pounce however insistent Liverpool are that their star player is not for sale.

In Barcelona, it is claimed a deal is all but done. Whether they have the financial clout to make such a move remains to be seen. Many think not.

But Mundo Deportivo, the Barcelona sports daily, reported that the club had not only identified Suarez as their top target but that talks are serious.

They wrote of an €85million release clause in Suarez’s contract that would be lowered by €20m should Real Madrid or Barcelona make a bid. And they salivate, understand­ably, over the prospect of Suarez partnering Lionel Messi and Neymar in the most formidable attack in Europe.

At the same time, they suggested Alexis Sanchez moving in t he opposite direction to Merseyside.

The report also highlighte­d the added attraction for Suarez of having the i n- l aws around the corner. Apparently his wife’s family live in Castelldef­els, a Barcelona suburb where the likes of Messi reside.

Only time will tell if there is an agenda here. If Suarez walked into that interview area thinking he could speak freely in the belief that he would not be returning to England.

‘I want to see what they think now,’ was how he signed off his message to those he considers his detractors. Presumably from a safer vantage point of somewhere in Spain.

 ??  ?? THE NEMESIS Suarez enjoyed cocking a snook at the English media following victory
THE NEMESIS Suarez enjoyed cocking a snook at the English media following victory
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