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Barca's risk in signing Suarez depends on the player

The official announcement of Luis Suarez's signing will come as no surprise for Barca fans around the world after weeks of rumours, but that will not stop it becoming a huge talking point for so many different reasons.

- Report: Liverpool confirm Suarez-to-Barcelona move
- Kelly: Suarez someone else's problem now
- Molyneux-Carter: Top 5 Suarez moments at Liverpool

What is certain is that the Uruguayan striker -- who on Thursday saw FIFA turn down his appeal of his four-month blanket ban from all football activity -- will certainly add some firepower to Barcelona's attack. Yet Barca can't afford to have a season in which they are caught up in the controversies Suarez is capable of getting mixed up in.

The image Barca liked to convey that it is "mes que un club" (more than a club) has already been shattered by a series of events in recent years -- starting with the surrender to shirt sponsorship up to the murky transfer of Neymar last summer.

Let's face it, Barca is just another football club and needs to buy the best in the world to compete at the highest level. In Suarez they have a great talent, but question marks will continue to shadow his every move throughout his time at the club.

On the plus side, he will link up with Neymar and Lionel Messi to form a frightening strike force that should help the club compete for a fifth Champions League title and to regain La Liga.

Luis Suarez will team up with fellow South Americans Lionel Messi and Neymar next season at the Camp Nou.
Luis Suarez will team up with fellow South Americans Lionel Messi and Neymar next season at the Camp Nou.

There is no doubt his final season of four at Liverpool put him in the world-class bracket on the pitch. With a brace against England, his World Cup wasn't going too badly either, until that incident with Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini.

Many of the 31 Premier League goals he grabbed for Liverpool last season were spectacular, and his talent will lift the standard of La Liga at the same time as it causes the Premier League's level to slightly fall.

Barca had no doubt planned to sign Suarez way before the third biting incident of his career. The fact is that the most coveted player in the world this summer has a behavioural problem that has seen him bite opponents on three separate occasions in his career.

That side of him -- together with the racially abusive language used towards Patrice Evra, for which he was banned for eight games in 2011 -- has to be left behind for good. He will start at Barca on the back foot.

The details of FIFA's latest ban have attempted to write him off the football map; not only is he not allowed to play, he is restricted from training, using the club's facilities, or even visiting children in hospital with his new colleagues.

He will attempt to do his talking on the pitch and is more than capable of winning over everybody with his goals; in the meantime, Barca will need to start the season well without him.


31 - Premier League goals, winning the Golden Boot.
12 - Most assists in the Premier League.
24 - Scored the most goals from inside the box.
 4 - Scored the most goals from counterattacks.
•  9 - Had the most shots that hit the woodwork.
•  3 - Most penalties won in the Premier League.
• 237 - Attempted more dribbles than any other player.

Forward Pedro Rodriguez was described as "untouchable" last week by sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta, and with the departure of Alexis Sanchez he will be the man to fill the gap left by Suarez's ban.

That gap will include three matchdays of the Champions League and potentially around 10 games in La Liga. There is still the option for Suarez to take his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, but don't hold your breath; he likely won't be seen until October.

With new coach Luis Enrique looking to get off to a good start, Pedro will be a key man, and when Suarez does finally join the squad, Barca will hope to have lost no ground in either competition.

From that point onwards it will be all about what he does and does not do on the pitch. Until then he will be the forgotten man, awaiting his chance to show the world what he can do.

For Barca it can go either way. They know the risks involved in signing such a controversial player; they also fully understand his potential and the trophies he can bring the club in the coming years.

What is understood up to now is that the signing rubs the shine from Barca's halo a little further. Whether it will ultimately be worth it is something that only time will tell.

Dermot lives in Spain, where he freelances for several publications, including AFP and the Press Association. Follow him on Twitter @dermotled.


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