The first thing to understand about Luis Suárez's interview with the Guardian is that he came to us.
There was no pursuit this side. It was Suárez's idea, impatient that he was not getting his own way, aggrieved by some of the things he was hearing, increasingly starting to think of that red shirt as little more than a straitjacket.
You wonder, does he realise how rich it is that he has turned to one of the newspapers he previously blamed for everything? Or whether he particularly cares now it is increasingly transparent how far he is willing to go to get his move to Arsenal and that, next, lawyers will be involved and Liverpool face the ultimate indignity of being reported to the authorities by the player they have cherished and protected and defended, often to the point of ridicule.
Suárez being Suárez, the story is littered with imperfections. It does not seem to register that Liverpool, after the battering their reputation has taken, might deserve better than this kind of mutiny. There is no apparent shame, or even recognition, of all the times when he has expanded on why he will be staying at Anfield come what may, or any form of appreciation that some people actually believed it.
And it boils down to this: can we actually trust a single damn thing he says? That is the difficult part here. Can we put our faith in a man with his previous for bluff and spin and downright deception when, at the heart of his complaints, he wants us to believe Brendan Rodgers promised he would be let free if Liverpool did not qualify for the Champions League? Or will it transpire that it is just another Suárez con-trick, more evidence that morality does not even come into it, and we are talking about someone who operates in a world where it is fine to play dirty, just as long as it means getting what he wants?
"I spoke with Brendan Rodgers several times and he told me: 'Stay another season and you have my word if we don't make it then I will personally make sure that you can leave,'" Suárez says. "I just want them to abide by the promises made last season."
If that is true, Suárez has legitimate reasons to be aggrieved. Yes, he appears to have forgotten, with alarming haste, the phenomenal support Rodgers and Liverpool have provided but a broken promise is a broken promise and, before anything, his manager surely has to clear up whether this is truth or fiction, on the record and with no incongruity.
Bucking the modern trend, there is also something to be said about the fact Suárez has at least had the gumption to say what he thinks, the old-fashioned way, rather than hiding behind an assortment of men in suits, in the style of Wayne Rooney and Gareth Bale, and employing people to get his information out, drip by drip, but with nothing attributed.
He also makes a valid point about the Champions League because it is true that a player of these gifts, in his prime years, should crave a place in Europe's premier club competition.
For Liverpool, this is the cold reality of modern life. Suárez is just bringing it home what it is like to be permanently playing catch-up. And this, unfortunately for one of the great bastions of the sport, is what can happen when a club is approaching a quarter of a century since their last championship and finished 28 points and a country mile from the summit last time around. The best players want more. They don't remember the days when Liverpool ruled. It's history, another century.
What about loyalty, you might ask. Yet only if you had missed the fact that the modern-day football man does not share the same characteristics of the fan. The truth – and it appeals to nobody – is that it doesn't work like that, whether we like it or not, and there is little point expecting it to be different because doing so brings only one thing: disappointment.
Rodgers has talked of the need for Suárez to show loyalty and nobody has reminded him that in 2009, as Watford manager, he provided some of the answers himself. "People are questioning my integrity and one thing I have mentioned is I always have integrity," Rodgers, asked about the fact bookmakers had slashed the odds on him taking over at Reading, said back then. "I am loyal and find it disloyal when I am asked about other clubs when I am the Watford manager." Within two weeks, he was Reading manager.
Suárez, however, is a particularly spectacular example when you think back to those days when he talked about vendettas, mistranslations, miscarriages of justice, a media "controlled by Manchester United", and there would be a stampede of fans running to his defence, like ants, lapping it all up and blindly attacking anyone who saw him for what he was (incidentally, it will be a pretty bleak day when the press don't criticise someone for using racist language).
Maybe, without wishing to generalise too much, this is just the psyche of the football fan. Just watch how many Arsenal supporters will start to use the same old lines about Suárez – you know the ones: "misunderstood," "victimised," etc etc – if that unlikely marriage with Arsène Wenger happens. Not all of them, granted. But there is something particularly revealing about the reaction the Arseblog website has experienced after it dared oppose the move on the grounds of morality.
"Objecting to the signing of Suárez has led to some of the most virulent abuse I've ever received," Arseblog's Andrew Mangan wrote recently. "There have been veiled threats of violence because I'm honest about the fact I'd prefer if we didn't sign him.
"But what I find most dismaying is the revisionism that's gone on since our interest has become public knowledge. I don't remember too many Arsenal fans defending him when he was banned for eight games for the Evra incident. I don't remember too many Arsenal fans saying that biting somebody isn't really that bad when you think about it. I don't remember too many Arsenal fans who said anything other than Suárez, for all his talent on the field, was a pretty despicable person whose antics, cheating and nasty play made him one of the most loathed characters in the game. Yet now, people are falling over themselves to make excuses for him."
At Liverpool, all the brainwashing, the blind loyalty, the partisanship – call it what you will – is fast wearing off. Liverpool's supporters had, for the most part, liked to think that Suárez saw Anfield as more than just another workplace, that there was a special bond, that he was one of their own. More than anything, they believed in him. Suárez has made it incredibly difficult now to imagine him playing in front of the Kop, where pride is everything, again. Perhaps that was all part of the plan.
"I have to put my career first," Suárez says. "People say Liverpool deserve more from me but I have scored 50 goals in less than 100 games and now they could double the money they paid for me. It is not as if I am asking to move to a local rival."
Yet Arsenal are just that if Liverpool have serious aspirations about clambering back into the Champions League. And everything Suárez says – a mix of ambition, frustration, selfishness and that familiar persecution complex – is contained in the threat of an impending legal battle.
The clause in Suárez's contract, leaked to Arsenal and resulting in them going a pound over what they believed was the £40m release fee, is clearly ambiguous to some degree. What is absolutely clear is that Suárez is going to be as proactive as he can to make sure he gets his way. He is "happy" to go to the Premier League if a formal transfer request does not do the trick. He has already enlisted the support of the Professional Footballers' Association. These are statements that must make Liverpool's fans yearn for the days when everything was so much more simple and innocent.
Arsenal, in the meantime, can sit tight and see how it plays out. They will deny it, of course, but they may have known what Suárez was planning in advance. And if it was all part of a strategy – strengthen Arsenal's position, weaken Liverpool's – it has probably worked.
Rodgers, until this point, has argued that Liverpool are bigger than any player, then repeatedly acted in a way that completely contradicts that view. Now it must surely be about trying to extract as much money as possible and rushing through a replacement before the transfer window clanks shut.
In one way, it would represent a wretched episode for the modern Liverpool because of what it says about their place in the order of English football these days, and the knowledge that players of this ability, like rare butterflies, do not come along that often.
In another sense, it might be a blessed relief when Suárez becomes someone else's problem. If "problem" is the right word for someone who can score goals from any distance or angle. "My record shows that I'm not the kind of player who wants to change clubs every season," Suárez says. No, this would be his fourth transfer in eight years. So, to clarify, every other season. That kind of player.
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image: © ruairaigh