Since this is my first column at TJRSports.com, I feel that a short introduction is in order.
I've been a sports fan for as long as I can remember, and it all started when I was a child. I would go to my grandmother's house when my parents needed a babysitter, and her and I would sit down and watch Atlanta Braves games. At that young age, I didn't really understand what I was watching, but I knew one thing, I liked it.
Ever since then, my love for sports has grown, which has inevitably led me here.
I will primarily write about the English Premier League, though I will occasionally branch off into some of the other major world leagues. The majority of my columns will be match previews, breaking news (major injuries, suspensions, player transfers), and Pick'Em specials.
Without further ado, let's start the show!
Loyalty to one team is something we don't see much of anymore. Gone are the days of the Derek Jeters, the Mariano Riveras, the Ted Williamses, guys that played their whole careers with one team. Many times, we find ourselves cursing, throwing whatever is within arm's reach, and generally overreacting when we find that our favorite player has left for another team, and rightfully so. These are players that we've invested our time in, our lives, our very beings into. We've cried for them, we've rejoiced with them, we've fought for them, why shouldn't we?
In European Football (I refuse to call it "soccer"), loyalty takes on a whole new meaning, and in light of the recent story of Luis Suarez, a striker for Liverpool, wanting to leave the club after signing a multi-year deal/extension in 2012, it got me thinking: What exactly IS loyalty? When you think of Liverpool Football Club, there are certain names that are synonymous with it: Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Ian Rush, Kenny Dalglish, Ian Callaghan, the list goes on and on. What do these guys have in common? Several hundred appearances for the club. These guys were and are fantastic footballers, players who truly exemplify what it meant to play at Anfield, and wear the storied Red Shirt (not to be confused with Manchester United red).
Which brings me to Luis Suarez.
I will go on record and say that Suarez is one of the most exciting and prolific (if not always for the right reasons) strikers that Liverpool have seen in recent years. Luis joined Liverpool in 2011, after then striker Fernando Torres controversially left Liverpool for Chelsea FC. Which, for sake of comparison was like LeBron James "taking his talents to South Beach". All apologies to the City of Cleveland, you guys deserved better than that.
Suarez is nothing, if not explosive on the pitch, he has fantastic vision for the goal, and is always looking to put the ball in the back of the net, or assist another player in scoring. Though, he makes up in performance on the field what he lacks in attitude off the field. I mentioned earlier in the column that he signed a multi-year deal. After signing said deal, he went on record as saying:
"To sign a new contract with Liverpool is unbelievable for me because I am so happy here at both the club and also in the city...When you are a kid, everybody wants to play for Liverpool. I am here now and it is a dream for me, and now I am a Liverpool fan...I am happy off the pitch because the people of Liverpool are good with me and my family. I try my best on the pitch and when you are happy off the pitch, you are happy on the pitch."
What fools we were to believe him. We wanted to believe that this time would be different, that this time, we could truly go forward with a player that we'd grown to love. One that we envisioned achieving great things with, maybe even finally winning the Premiership, something Liverpool has not done since the 1989-1990 season. It now looks like nothing more than a pipe dream, as he has stated that he wants to move clubs, effective the end of the 2013 campaign.
Now of course, Liverpool can take many steps to ensure that leaving is not an option. They can make prying him away from Anfield as hard or easy as they want, though that really depends on how high Suarez is on top brass' opinion list. At this point, you might be thinking "What's the big deal? They have the money, can't they just buy someone else?", and my answer would be, yes, they could.
What we have to take into account is that though Liverpool has a storied history rich in trophies and well known players, they have hit a slight rough patch in these past few years. Rough patches don't bode well for signing good talent. Players want to win trophies, they want the accolades associated with them, and the paychecks that go with them are pretty nice too. Luis is no different from anyone else in that regard, however, had this been his intention all along, we could've gone without the heartwarming speech he made after signing.
Every player has his price, and there will always be someone there to pay for it, and in the end, maybe that's all that loyalty really is anymore.
- Josh Byrne
Follow Josh on Twitter at: @ElJefeTweets