Everyone knows Luis Suarez bites people. Everyone knows he play acts. He's been found guilty of racially abusing another player. And on top of that, he cruelly denied Ghana the chance to be Africa's first team ever to reach a World Cup semifinal - on the first World Cup held in Africa, no less - with his hand.
Barcelona have their image problems as it is. Sergio Busquets has, slightly unfairly in my opinion, been labelled a diver. (It's true he exaggerates, but you'd be hard pressed to find him diving in the past 3 years) Xavi's exuberant defensiveness when it comes to attacks against Barcelona makes him look like a bit of a jerk. (This is somewhat justified by the fact that Catalans are still very much outsiders in Spain).
No one's perfect. All the top teams are hated somewhere. That's not strange.
But on the other hand, Barcelona has won La Liga's Fair Play award four years straight. Their sponsorship deal with UNICEF, which includes millions of dollars being donated for a few years now, is unprecedented.
In 2007, Barcelona became the first and so far only club to win FIFA's Fair Play Award.
Some may take it as a veneer of saintliness. It's not. No one's a saint. What it IS though, is a goal to aspire to.
Barcelona may not be perfect angels; certainly, players, manager and team officials have made a million and one mistakes. But that doesn't mean the team shouldn't TRY to be magnanimous, courteous, and humble.
And here we are, with Barcelona thinking of signing arguably the world's most controversial player (though the likes of Pepe and Diego Costa are in the argument.)
There's more than one way to look at this. One, as some of our writers have preferred, is that this deal - should it happen - runs completely counter to the team's stated ethics. I understand this view point.
Two, as others have argued, the whole thing about values is a bunch of crap anyway. Sign the best players and forget how nice they are. I totally reject this viewpoint.
Again, Barcelona is not made up of angels but the team should do its best to make sure the players are decent human beings. Other teams can say ethics mean zero and winning is everything. But Barcelona is not any team. They can't wholly reject ethics without losing something innate.
Suarez may be generally perceived as a despicable human being, although his family and friends swear he's actually a decent guy, a generous teammate, and a caring family man. Obviously, while he may have shouted epithets at Patrice Evra, his relationship with black teammates seems fine. He is not, in the end, irredeemable.
Let's put aside the normal objections to a transfer. It's not guaranteed that he will fit right in, though a change of scenery and a shift to a Spanish-speaking country could do wonders. He will be out for a long time. Liverpool want an absurd amount of money, 100 million according to the Daily Mail. And letting go of Alexis Sanchez as part of any deal has huge issues. Let's forget that for a bit.
The only way this could work is if Barcelona try to redeem him. That means, in all probability, therapy. It means he has to give a heartfelt apology, something he's refused to do, truly, for past transgressions.
Barcelona have to approach this not as "he's a twisted man, but he plays good football, so whatever" but as "he's a twisted man that needs help, and also he plays good football."
Is it impossible to guarantee that it will work? Of course. But again - it's about striving towards the goal. At least try. Otherwise, forget it.