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How Do You Solve a Problem Like Luis Suarez?

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If Luis Suarez wasn't such an incredible footballer he wouldn't be such a massive headache. But he's a special talent and so Liverpool have to carefully figure out what to do with him after he was handed a lengthy ban for biting Giorgio Chiellini.

Clive Brunskill

What Should Be Made of Suarez's Four Month Ban?

Suarez will miss nine Premier League matches and a couple of Champions League encounters, which is a stinging blow to Liverpool's high aspirations heading into the 2014-15 season. FIFA were backed into a corner here and could not afford to appear weak, so they handed out an extremely forceful punishment. Liverpool made a calculated decision last summer to hold onto Suarez despite his past transgressions, but nonetheless it's difficult to avoid a sense of injustice as they suffer again from an event that occurred in international play. But really, the only one to blame here is Suarez himself, because no matter what his mental state was it's his own ugly actions that have directly damaged Liverpool once more.

Something to think about: Suarez's ban does not include any sort of counseling or treatment aimed at preventing future incidents. He's been suspended before, so how is another ban without mental care going to "fix" him? FIFA had to ban Suarez to look forceful, but the act appears hollow without any attempt to help Suarez with whatever it is that causes him to bite other players.

Should Liverpool Sell Him?

Here's where opinion will be especially divided, not only on Internet forums but also between the key decision makers at Liverpool. For me, this isn't a moral issue or even a discussion about the club saving face; rather, I believe that the decision on Suarez's future will be made based on a careful assessment of the damage done by his nine match absence and the possibility that he'll receive additional bans in the future. In other words, whether Liverpool should keep Suarez depends on cold hard calculation, not reactionary anger.

Suarez's suspension will certainly do damage to Liverpool in the short-term, and while the club survived admirably without him to start last season, it's tough to see them repeating the feat over a longer stretch of time. That's not to say that Liverpool will fall apart completely, but the drop off in attacking firepower will force them to play tighter, more defensive games. However, if they sell Suarez, they won't have him in the lineup anyways, so Liverpool are essentially screwed in the short-term no matter what.

There's substantial risk that Suarez will do something stupid again someday to warrant another ban, and this risk is the primary argument for Liverpool to let him go. While the Chiellini bite lowers his value, another incident could wipe out his worth completely. But does that risk outweigh the risk of selling him and failing to qualify for the Champions League again because of it? I think that's the essential question here, and one that I honesty don't know the answer to yet. When Suarez returns, he'll probably be good enough to win back his detractors within the fan base, but what's stopping him from having another afternoon snack? Even with proper psychiatric care (or whatever he needs), there's no guarantee that he'll avoid trouble in the future.

It's in Liverpool's best interest to at least listen to offers for Suarez now, but he remains a top five player in the world, and so losing him at a price that belies his immense talent does nothing to help the club in the short or long-term. The risk that comes with keeping Suarez means that Liverpool should be prepared to part with their star man, but only at full price.

Origi Rumored to Be Liverpool Target

With Suarez suspended for nine Premier League matches, there's going to be increased focus on adding attack reinforcements. Even before the bite, Liverpool were looking to add a winger, and that search will surely intensify. But interestingly the latest rumor is for a striker - Divock Origi - who was relatively unknown before scoring a recent World Cup winner for Belgium. He's 19 and a definite project, so the move would be for the future. I'm not sure if now is the right time to sign someone like Origi if it jeopardizes necessary signings for the present, especially since Lille will likely pump up his price tag after his World Cup performance.