Luis Suarez is a welcome sight for Barcelona, soccer

By Dan Escalona

Don’t look now, but the most fascinating, enigmatic and controversial player in soccer is primed to return later this week.

Luis Suarez, the serial biter, will return from his four-month suspension Saturday for Barcelona following his infamous biting incident at the World Cup. 

Not only is his return good news for Barca, and bad news for the rest of Europe, but the timing of his return cannot possibly be better him and the team.

Suarez will make his debut for Barcelona against rival Real Madrid in the latest edition of El Clasico. 

For the uninitiated, El Clasico is easily one of the most heated rivalries in soccer — and possibly all of sports. The rivalry developed during the Spanish Civil War and the stakes are always high in one of Europe’s fiercest derbies.

Injecting the energy brought by Suarez adds an irresistible layer of zest into an always intense El Clasico affair. 

For all we know, Suarez might just be brought out onto the pitch with a muzzle strapped to his mouth — a la Hannibal Lecter. One can never know.

The implications of his return from suspension, though, are much bigger then simply one game for Barcelona. 

Adding Suarez into the mix to an already star-studded lineup, which includes Leo Messi and Neymar, makes Barcelona the team to beat in Europe. 

Thus far into the La Liga season, even without Suarez, Barca is undefeated in eight matches. It has outscored opponents by 22 goals, and most remarkably, has yet to concede. It’s clear the team’s been on fire out of the gate.

With Messi up to his usual tricks and the emergence of Neymar following an uneventful 2013 season, bringing Suarez into the fold gives Barcelona a lethal trio of strikers. 

Perhaps the most infuriating aspect of the Suarez fiasco in June is the fact that the incident caused many to neglect the value he brings on the field. His clearly ill-advised actions turned him into essentially a caricature. Getting back on the pitch and being able to contribute right away, and of course stay away from controversy, will do a great deal in fixing up his reputation as a player.

This was the leading scorer in the Premier league last season after all.

By simply comparing the play of Liverpool with and without Suarez, one can easily see how much of an impact he has on any team.

Thus far in the season, Liverpool has had a difficult time replicating the pace and attacking ability Suarez brought. He nearly led his former club to its first EPL title a season ago, so his value cannot be overstated.

Suarez’s greatest asset is the energy and constant movement he brings for 90 minutes. His high-octane, never say die attitude on the field wreaks havoc for every opposing defense he encounters.

His energetic style of play is incredibly contagious and he has the ability to change the momentum of any match on a dime. 

Of course, Suarez wears his heart on his sleeve and is an emotional player on the pitch (maybe sometimes too emotional). If he can keep his behavior in check, that energy and emotion that come with the Suarez package can only benefit Barcelona.

Barca is already loaded and well-balanced with two world-class strikers, a stingy defense and a knack for controlling the possession. By throwing another elite score into the fold, Barcelona could potentially win a treble (La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League) this season. 

While Suarez will not be the focal point of the Barcelona attack, playing a complementary roll up front to Messi and Neymar may be the ideal role for him.

As for Suarez, his suspension may have been the antidote he needed to fix his behavior. Previous incidents of biting other players already ended his playing days at Ajax and Liverpool. The most recent incident during the World Cup cost him the most in terms of reputation, so it should be obvious at this point that Suarez will no longer take his career for granted.

Suarez vowed not to do something stupid on the pitch again, and I give him the benefit of the doubt. He has a lot to prove to the entire soccer community, especially that he can control himself and not let his emotions get the best of him. 

Suarez’s road to soccer redemption will begin the Saturday, in no more climactic fashion than against Real Madrid at The Santiago Bernabeu.

Let’s just hope that he doesn’t attempt to take a chomp out of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Dan is a junior in Media. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @danescalona77.