Barcelona needs the old Suarez back
Barcelona's draw with Valencia means they have failed to win their last four matches in LaLiga. While that would be disastrous in normal cases, Barca finds themselves just a point behind leaders Sevilla at second place.
Thanks largely to the fact that their eternal rivals are struggling too. But one should wonder if Real would be struggling if Ronaldo were still in their ranks. Barcelona surely would have lost the last game had not Messi dug them out of the hole they found themselves in.
The magician has been the main goal scorer this season, but there is a feeling as each game goes by, that he is Barca's only one. Their #9, Luis Suarez has not turned up yet, at least not with his shooting boots. There is no doubt that Suarez is a team player; his two outrageous dummies against Tottenham led to Messi scoring.
His overall movement has pulled defenders out of position and given others space to score. But in doing so, his goals have dried up and that is a problem. Suarez was not brought into this team to create chances for others; it should be the other way around.
Many have argued that the Uruguayan suffered when Neymar left. There was for sure a great bond between the front three, but while Messi has moved on, Suarez seems to have changed. While his on-the-face attitude remains, his form in front of the goal has been poor.
He did score 25 goals in LaLiga last season after a slow start, but everyone knows he is better than that. And even if Neymar left, Suarez has Messi who passes the ball through channels only he can see. But that has not helped Suarez rack up goals, and he has retreated to becoming a provider rather than a scorer.
It has caused many to wonder if his days are numbered in the Camp Nou. Many waited for the summer arrival of a striker to give him competition. Instead, Barca loaned out the only out and out striker in the squad, Paco Alcacer.
The Spanish striker did not prove that he could replace the Uruguayan. But did he get enough chances to do so? Therein lies a problem that the Barca management will be worried about. Alcacer was not able to find a rapport with Messi as Suarez has.
And that meant that he was bound to be benched in favor of Suarez, regardless of the goals he scored. Any player the board brings in should also be capable of performing at the same wavelength as Messi.
Paco Alcacer was brought in as an understudy but left before he could succeed the Uruguayan. Munir El Haddadi is the only recognizable forward left, but he is more of a squad player than someone who can challenge for the starting spot.
That means that an understudy to Suarez is not an option. Barcelona needs someone who is a proven goal scorer and someone that is capable of linking up with the way Barca play.
And Barcelona did get a taste of that player at Wembley last week. Harry Kane is someone who could be Luis Suarez's replacement. He is someone who has been scoring consistently in one of the top leagues and is also a team player. He has the passing skills to find his teammates and regularly starts an attack from the midfield as well. Everything points out to him being the ideal striker Barca need.
But while the prospect of both Kane and Suarez in the same team is mouthwatering for any Barca fan, there are many obstacles in the way. Moneywise it is quite a herculean task for Barca to lure away Kane.
Tottenham boss Daniel Levy is known to be a tough negotiator and will not allow their most prized asset to leave for a meager sum. Any transfer that takes place will likely threaten the amount PSG paid for Neymar. And even if Barca somehow succeeds in landing Kane, the Englishman is not going to accept a role on the bench and nor is Luis Suarez.
Suarez's lack of goals is likely to be a headache for Valverde, even though he would not admit it publicly. Suarez is a slow starter but with Barca dropping points and his goals also drying up season after season, the management will need to decide soon if they want to be patient with him.
But the ultimate decision is for Luis to make. He knows he is untouchable at the moment due to the lack of options on the bench and also because of his rapport with Messi. So he needs to decide whether he is fine creating chances for others or wants to take them himself.
If Barca's results take a turn for the good then everyone will be happy, whether Suarez scores or not. But if Barca cannot turn around their bad form in La Liga, Suarez could easily be the scapegoat.
Barca needs their #9 to bring his bite back (no pun intended). Or he should decide whether it is time for him to leave and let Barca bring in a worthy replacement.