The 2014-15 season may still be quite a few weeks away, but Liverpool have been dealt a massive blow in their quest to win the Premier League title for the first time in their history.
Star striker Luis Suarez will miss no fewer than nine league fixtures at the start of the season because of a four-month ban imposed on him by FIFA.
The 27-year-old has also been suspended for nine international matches for biting Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder during Uruguay’s World Cup Group D clash against Italy at the Arena das Dunas in Natal on Tuesday.
Suarez has been universally condemned for committing the same offence for the third time in his career, but Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish has backed the club to stand by him yet again.
‘I think you will find that Liverpool will not turn their back on Suarez, whatever the ban FIFA have decided he must serve’, he wrote in The Mirror.
Dalglish was the Reds manager in the 2011-12 campaign when Suarez was involved in a racism row with Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.
The former Ajax striker was eventually found guilty of racially abusing the France international left-back and was given an eight-game ban, as well fined £40,000. However, both Liverpool and Dalglish stood by the player.
Then in April 2013, Suarez bit Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic during a match at Anfield and was subsequently banned for 10 matches. And now, he has committed the same offence – biting an opponent.
Many footballing figures, including Everton manager Roberto Martinez, have called for Suarez to be given help, and Dalglish is of the same opinion.
‘Sometimes, when people have something wrong with them, just because they don’t have a plaster cast on their leg, people think they don’t need help’, he continued.
‘Well, after the Ivanovic incident last year, Liverpool gave Luis help - and he was receptive to that help... Some people have injuries you can’t see. Amid all the noise, that’s one thing that is maybe worth remembering’.
Perhaps when Suarez eventually returns to Liverpool, he will be given that help.