Patrice Evra is a happy man. The left-back, judged to be on the receiving end of racial slurs from Liverpool striker Luis Suarez back when their respective teams squared-off in Premier League action on 15th October, recently saw his side beat the Reds and also witnessed his rival rebuked by his club. The English Football Association had banned Suarez for eight games, with the Uruguayan soon in action against none other than his accuser in a pressure-cooker atmosphere at Old Trafford.

Like the John Terry-Wayne Bridge case, eyes all over England – and Europe – were fixed on the pre-match ritual that was to take place before the game between Manchester United and Liverpool on 11th February. Despite both sides’ confirmation that the usual handshake would indeed take place, Suarez opted to ignore Evra’s extended hand, setting the whole stadium on fire, and prompting Rio Ferdinand – whose brother Anton is at the centre of a racist abuse case involving Terry – to lower his arm as Suarez approached. In the end, Manchester United prevailed 2-1, and Evra’s excessive post-game celebrations next to Suarez meant that the story was alive once again, rather than being put to rest when the two men’s palms should have met 90 minutes earlier.

“Suarez is a disgrace to Liverpool Football Club. That player should not be allowed to play for Liverpool again. The history that club has got … and he does that today”, blasted Sir Alex Ferguson after the game, over the conduct of the Reds forward, while Kenny Dalglish insisted that he did not pay attention to the usual pre-match handshake, believing the Uruguayan had done as he had indicated before the game, and shook hands.

Later on, Liverpool published an apology from Suarez and Dalglish on their website, despite having stuck by the Uruguayan throughout the incident which led to his ban. The image of England’s most successful club might have been helped, but that of Suarez remains under the microscope.

While Ferguson’s comments inflamed Liverpool fans, the Scot, no matter a believed willingness to put the boot into his club’s rivals, did have something of a point. The 2011 Copa America winner had numerous chances to bury the hatchet and put this ugly episode behind him, but for one reason or another, did not. FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s famous declaration that a racial spat might be ended with a handshake might have played down a very serious issue, but it certainly would constitute the first step towards restoration of a greater spirit of camaraderie and addressing the problem once and for all, especially in a multi-ethnic country such as England.

Whether Suarez’ Anfield career is cut short this summer really remains anybody’s guess: Liverpool Football Club are a proud institution, one that has seen famous black players don their mythical jersey. But to part ways with one of their most decisive players at the moment seems tactical madness. There are not too many players similar to Suarez, with Liverpool having struggled for creativity and verve in his absence – and breaking ties with the Uruguayan would be a step back for the club in their quest for lost silverware and glory days.

Yet should the love story cause one or both parties to consider divorce, not many clubs would be able to acquire the talented striker, with cost likely an issue. It is also hard to see Suarez heading elsewhere in England, as Liverpool would be desperate not to strengthen league rivals.

Should Suarez be forced, or choose, to leave his famous Anfield home, then the options would be few for the attacker. A switch to Spain, with no language adaptation needed and where his silky skills would be welcome, would surely be high on the agenda. And that really only means either Barcelona or Real Madrid. Elsewhere, Serie A sides are struggling with an economic malaise, as the failure of each of the Milan sides to bag Carlos Tevez clearly demonstrated, and Suarez’ wage demands would exceed the capacity of Bundesliga clubs.

Barcelona are surely an option for the controversial forward. The Catalans appear to have lost the race for the league crown, conceding it to their bitter rivals. They are still regarded as the best side in the world, but their invincibility-lining has been perforated at times this season. The arrival of Suarez at the club would grant the side an extra dimension in attack, next to the already jaw-dropping cohort of David Villa, Pedro and Alexis Sanchez, led by the world’s best player Lionel Messi.

Yet, such a move would force Josep Guardiola to shuffle his side in order to accommodate Suarez in the centre of his famous attacking trident. This would see Messi revert to his original right-hand side role, but the Argentine has demonstrated that he works best as a “false nine”. After all, big names such as David Villa and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have been moved aside or cast-away from the team altogether in order to accommodate the diminutive forward, a move that has paid dividends for the Blaugrana. And so while the Camp Nou cannot be ruled out, Suarez would likely have to adapt and operate in an unfamiliar role.

Real Madrid could prove to be another lucrative prospect for the ex-Ajax captain. Suarez best operates as a second striker, using his excellent abilities on the ball to draw defenders in order to ease the pressure on the lone man up front. He would present a different option than either Mesut Ozil or Kaka, transforming Jose Mourinho’s 4-2-3-1 into a 4-4-1-1. A team holding his attributes next those of Cristiano Ronaldo, Ozil, Kaka and Angel di Maria would be a mouth-watering prospect.

But Los Merengues might opt to pass on Suarez’ signature, even if Liverpool decide to show him the door at a bargain price, and for various reasons. First of all, despite much speculation, Mourinho looks set for a third year in the capital, and  the Portuguese boss now picks the players to be signed – one of the terms he posed back when he accepted the Bernabeu hot seat. The tactician requires a high level of discipline and conformity from his players: his potential tutorship of Suarez brings to mind his electric relationship with Mario Balotelli back at Inter. Second, the club itself has long since taken a decision to cut ties with controversial stars, as gifted as they may be: Suarez donning the famous white jersey brings to minds the story of Antonio Cassano’s horrible spell at the club.

The declaration made by Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre that Suarez has failed the club has been the first and probably last warning the Uruguayan will receive in regards to maintaining the club’s image as one of the most prestigious English sides. Any other similar faux-pas will surely be dealt with in a different manner. Where the Uruguayan might leave for however, remains decidedly opaque.