- 5'10" (1.80m)
- 179 lbs (81 kg)
- January 24, 1987
One of football's most divisive figures, Luis Suarez is a supremely gifted player who is tainted by an inability to stay out of trouble. His talent has never been in question but controversy never seems to be far from him, making it all the more surprising that Barcelona gambled 75 million pounds on taking him to Catalonia from Liverpool in the summer of 2014.
The year of 2014 perfectly encapsulated Suarez, from the sublime to the ridiculous. He finished the 2013-14 season as the Premier League's top scorer, his irrepressible presence in the Liverpool forward line taking the club to within a whisker of winning a first league title in 24 years. Then came the World Cup, a bite seen on Italy's Giorgio Chiellini seen around the globe and a subsequent four-month ban from football. The flawed genius had struck again.
Parallels could certainly be drawn with 2010, the year that first launched Luis Suarez into world superstardom, as well as global infamy. After finishing the 2009-10 season with a remarkable tally of 49 goals in 48 games in all competitions for Ajax, winning the Dutch Cup in the process, Suarez travelled to South Africa to contest the World Cup with Uruguay. In the quarterfinals against Ghana, he blocked a goal-bound effort in the final minute of extra time, earning a red card and conceding a penalty. However, Asamoah Gyan missed from 12 yards and Uruguay prevailed in the subsequent shootout, leading Suarez to be castigated by many for his role in the elimination of Africa's final competitors.
His magnetic attraction to negative PR was displayed once again in November 2010 when he was banned for seven games for biting PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal. The incident marked the final match of a wildly successful career in the Eredivisie following his move from Nacional in 2006, when he left the Uruguayan club having won the league in his debut season in the first team.
It was Groningen who brought him to the Netherlands for around 800,000 euros and, after scoring 10 goals in 29 games in his first season in the country, Ajax paid 7.5 million euros to take him to Amsterdam. Prior to the start of the 2010-11 season, he had repaid them handsomely with 74 goals in 97 league appearances, leading to speculation of a move to one of Europe's bigger clubs, and specifically Liverpool -- a club he eventually agreed to join in the 2011 January transfer window.
Suarez made an immediate impact at Liverpool, scoring on his Premier League debut against Stoke and endearing himself to the Anfield faithful thanks to his energy on the pitch. Hopes were high for his first full season after he was named the 2011 Copa America's Best Player as Uruguay won the tournament but, despite netting a respectable 17 goals in all competitions, his scoring form was marked by a propensity to hit the post rather than the back of the net in 2011-12. A superb hat trick against Norwich was perhaps his most positive contribution, while his most negative was unquestionably the eight-match ban he received for using racist language towards Manchester United's Patrice Evra. The suspension served to increase speculation about the striker's future, but he signed a new contract with the Reds in August 2012 shortly after appearing for Uruguay at the London Olympics.
The 2012-13 season saw Suarez significantly step up his game as he scored 23 goals in 33 games -- including another treble against Norwich -- as new Reds boss Brendan Rodgers brought the best out of him on the pitch. A particularly promising partnership was struck up with Daniel Sturridge following his arrival in January 2013, but Suarez would produce another blot on his copybook before the season was through. During a match against Chelsea in April, Suarez -- for the second time in his career -- sunk his teeth into an opponent. This time, Branislav Ivanovic was the victim and Suarez was banned for eight matches.
A summer of speculation followed, with Suarez suggesting he was ready to leave Anfield and Arsenal testing Liverpool's resolve, before the Uruguayan agreed to stay. It was to the benefit of both player and club. Banned for the first five games of the season, Suarez played in every remaining Premier League match after his return, scoring 31 goals in 33 goals as Liverpool -- unfancied before the start of the season -- came agonisingly close to winning the title. Of course, there was a third hat trick in three seasons against Norwich.
He went into the World Cup nursing a knee injury but was still expected to be one of the stars of the tournament. After a Suarez-less Uruguay lost to Costa Rica in their opening game, the talisman returned to face -- of all teams -- England. A match-winning brace against the Three Lions demonstrated again just how devastating a footballer he could be and all the talk was of a man who had achieved redemption.
That talk soon stopped.
In the final group game against Italy, Suarez became tangled with Chiellini. The teeth marks on the Azzurri defender's shoulder, along with the numerous television replays, showed that -- remarkably -- Suarez had bitten an opponent for the third time in his career. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Suarez and Uruguay -- players, fans, even the president -- denied that a bite had taken place. Eventually, Suarez admitted his crime but not before FIFA threw the book at him, banning him from all football-related activity to four months.
Liverpool had already backed Suarez through two high-profile controversies, but the Chiellini incident was one misdemeanour too many and the Reds opted to cash-in on their star player. Barcelona came calling and Suarez moved to the city in which his in-laws reside, beginning his search for redemption all over again.
Strengths: Technically excellent and full of running, this deadly striker is a threat from long range, in the box or in the air. He is also versatile and likes to attack from wide positions, making him an elusive presence.
Weaknesses: Disciplinary issues have frequently threatened to undermine Suarez.
Career high: Winning the Premier League Golden Boot in 2013-14 after plundering 31 goals.
Career low: Take your pick of Suarez's suspensions. The Bakkal and Ivanovic bites and the use of racist language towards Evra were particularly unpleasant incidents but the chomp on Chiellini stands head and, ahem, shoulders above the rest -- it showed he had not learned from his previous mistakes.
Style: Evasive, clever, deadly. A prolific forward.
Quotes: "Football must set an example and show examples of good players. People who are out of line must be punished. If my little children bite me, they are sent to the dark room with the big bad wolf. This is football's equivalent." Brazil legend and former World Player of the Year Ronaldo reacts to Suarez's ban in June 2014.
Trivia: Suarez left his home town of Salto at the age of only 11 when moving around 500km to join the ranks of Montevideo-based club Nacional.