The implications of Luis Suarez missing the World Cup are myriad. It would be bad luck for fans of football to lose Suarez for this tournament; whether he is playing the role of bad guy or brilliant match-winner, he is never less than watchable. The tournament needs him, and he needs this tournament. It is to be hoped that his optimism after his "successful" knee surgery is met with a speedy return. - Report: Suarez: I will be at World Cup - Vickery: Uruguay capable of weathering Suarez loss
This is a player who has looked almost indestructible ever since he arrived in English football. Consider the leg-wrecking challenge from Kevin Mirallas in last season's 3-3 Merseyside derby from which Suarez picked himself up and dazzled, or perhaps the resurrection shuffle he performed at Norwich City. For him to succumb to a common and garden training injury seems almost unthinkable, though reports that he tried to play through the pain are entirely typical. Suarez is a player who complains when he has to sit out an FA Cup visit to Oldham Athletic. In the light of his double collection of English footballer of the year awards and the accompanying narrative of redemption, Brazil could yet provide another opportunity to revive a reputation. Suarez was the undoubted villain of the 2010 finals in South Africa. His handball denied Ghana victory in the dying moments of their quarterfinal match; the locals were behind the Black Stars as one, Suarez's craftiness denied a continent its greatest achievement yet in the World Cup. For some, it was an understandable act of self-sacrifice, though his cackling celebration of Asamoah Gyan's penalty miss was wholly Machiavellian. By any means necessary is always the Suarez way, though he would enter this tournament as one of the world's very best players. South Africa, where he was already one of the best on show, was a breakout for him but a finals held on his own continent is an ideal opportunity to continue the augmentation of reputation. Four years ago, Uruguay arrived in the finals through the back door of an intercontinental playoff with Costa Rica, but marked themselves as a thrilling attacking force. Diego Forlan was voted the player of the tournament by journalists, but it was the perpetual motion of Suarez that usually caught the eye, in the style most eventually became accustomed to. If he can't get fit, Forlan, currently seeing out his playing days in Japan, may need to be recommissioned, while a burden might now fall on Edinson Cavani, unsettled in Paris, and rarely granted the central role he craves for either club or country. Although he is positive over his return, the finals could miss a shining star; should that happen, Suarez himself will feel that May 2014 has been perhaps the cruellest month of his career. A shirt pulled over his head at Selhurst Park could not hide his desolation as Liverpool threw away the title; shaking shoulders gave away his grief. Injury could deny the ultimate competitor a chance to play in the ultimate competition. How that affects his club future may yet be pertinent. This was supposed to be the summer that Real Madrid finally made their move. The denial of a World Cup may cause him to look for new horizon beyond Liverpool, even if he is set to play in the Champions League for them. At 27, he is in his peak years, which makes it a further shame he might be absent from Brazil. Meanwhile, there remains the possibility that he will make a quick recovery. The likelihood is that Suarez will make every effort to come back quickly, which may have residual effects beyond the here and now. Nagging knee problems are the bane of a footballer's life, and Liverpool would surely prefer that a full rehabilitation takes place, rather than a rush job, even if all those at the club know just how important playing for his country is to Suarez.
Officials already know that Suarez is not somebody to be crossed, so Liverpool can only look on and hope their precious cargo returns to Anfield in one piece.