A tribute to Luis Suarez

Suarez after completing his move to Liverpool from Ajax

On 13th April 2014, exactly 25 years since the Hillsborough tragedy – the saddest moment in Liverpool’s history – Coutinho’s winner against Manchester City meant Liverpool were on the cusp of winning the Premier League. Gerrard was in tears. Anfield was bouncing. It felt like destiny, a chance to win the title 25 years after 96 members of the Liverpool family, unfortunately, passed away, Liverpool needed 10 points from the next 4 games to end their 24-year title drought. But things did not go to plan against Chelsea and Crystal Palace and the dream was shattered.

The dream of winning the Premier League still remains a dream. With 31 goals and 14 assists in 33 PL appearances, Luis Suarez spearheaded Liverpool’s title charge and it would be safe to say that Liverpool would not have been in the title race but for Suarez. Before the start of the season many people did not even expect Liverpool to finish in the top 4 but Suarez and co. had other ideas.

Donning the Iconic no. 7 and delivering just like Dalglish, Keegan, Alridge

After being signed for 22.5m pounds from Ajax in January 2011, Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool’s greatest striker and greatest no. 7 handed him the prestigious no. 7 jersey to the Uruguayan. In his first 1.5 years at Liverpool always showed tons of ability but consistency was an issue. He ended up scoring 21 goals in all competitions in this period for Liverpool. In his next 2 years the Uruguayan rose to new heights and amassed a tally of 61 goals for the club.

The Uruguayan has gone from strength to strength. With 84 goals in 96 appearances for Barcelona in just 2 seasons, he has already overtaken his Liverpool goal tally despite missing 2 months for biting Chiellini in the World Cup. This year he became the second player in the history of FC Barcelona to score more than 50 goals in a single season. No prizes for guessing who was the first one to accomplish this feat. Being part of a list in which Messi is the only other one is no mean achievement.

A warrior who was a hero and a villain too

Suarez’s Liverpool career was a roller coaster ride. From being booed at the PFA awards ceremony in 2013 after biting Ivanovic, to bagging both the PFA and FWA Player of the Year Awards in 2014 for biting Chiellini in the World Cup while playing for Uruguay. His consistency in scoring and assisting was right up there in his last 2 seasons for Liverpool but discipline was an issue.

The summer of 2013 – where Suarez was flirting with Arsenal for a move – was a nightmare for the fans. This could have been a double blow for the club. But thanks to Gerrard and maybe a bit of luck Suarez stayed on at Anfield and powered Liverpool’s title charge.

The long rangers against Norwich, scintillating free kicks vs Zenit, FA cup goal against Everton, his diving celebration in front of David Moyes, setting up Dirk Kuyt’s 3 goals against Manchester United, Suarez gave plenty more joyous moments to the Liverpool supporters. But the Evra, Ivanovic, Chiellini incidents and his desire to join Arsenal were moments that Liverpool fans would like to forget. Despite these incidents, the support Suarez got from the Kop was phenomenal and could be attributed to his ability, desire and hard working nature.

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Opponent’s Nightmare and a Selfless Teammate

Suarez’s controversies could have been easily avoided, but one thing that stood out during his Liverpool career apart from his goals and assists was his ability to hound opposition defenders and win the ball when many other forwards would not even think about pressing for the ball. That commitment towards the club and desire to win was second to none. Suarez brings camaraderie to the club, he finished 2nd in the assists chart after Gerrard in 2013-14 setting up teammates selflessly on numerous occasions.

He was not the captain but would lead the team, would summon the teammates to press alongside him and not give an inch to the opponents.

In a team full of youngsters in Rodgers’ first season (2012-13), Suarez scored 23 goals in the PL to finish 2nd in the PL golden boot race. He had a terrific chance of winning it, in fact, but lost the chance after getting suspended for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. For the first half of the season he had to play alongside teenagers Suso and Sterling as part of the front 3 and despite the lack of established players to support him he had the ability to go on and win points on his own for the club.

He was in a league of his own in the Premier League. With 31 goals in 33 PL appearances in the next season (2013-14) he equalled Ronaldo’s record for highest number of goals in a 38 game PL season, that too without taking penalties, and fired Liverpool to the Champions League before joining Barcelona. It was a pity that Suarez had never played a Champions League game for Liverpool despite being a huge fan favourite and one of the best players in the club’s history even though he spent just 3.5 seasons at Anfield.

A true warrior who always gives 100%

For Suarez, football is life and winning means everything. He rarely gets injured and is definitely the most hard working forwards in the modern game. The tears after drawing to Crystal Palace, the tears after beating England in the World Cup, the tears after getting injured against Sevilla in the Copa Del Rey final show what it means for him to play and win.

With 84 goals in 93 appearances for Barcelona, Suarez has already surpassed the 82 goals he scored for Liverpool in his 3.5 seasons at Anfield. A transfer fee of £65m seems like a bargain for him in a massively inflated transfer market these days.

Gerrard consoling a distraught Suarez after a 3-3 draw against Crystal Palace

Best Striker in the World right now

Suarez who has won 2 European Golden Boots in the last 3 years, is at the peak of his career and is definitely the best no. 9 in world football at the moment. Barcelona have finally found a striker who can complement Messi and does not get overawed by his presence. To become the first player in 7 seasons to beat both Messi and Ronaldo to win the Pichichi award is a phenomenal achievement.

It is a bit surprising that Suarez has not been shortlisted for the UEFA Player of the Year award after scoring 59 goals for Barcelona last year. His reputation surely must have played a part. Gerrard once said “If Suarez does not get shortlisted for the Ballon d’OR he would be the best player not to be shortlisted for it.” Last year he was close but this year he definitely deserves to be in the top 3 for the Balon d’OR award.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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