FOR the past couple of years the jury has been out on whether or not Luis Suarez was the ‘real deal’. We all know that he’s a top player and that there’s so few like him in football at the moment that we are incredibly lucky to have him. For that much, we can at least thank Damien Comolli for that (although, it was under Rafa Benitez that Suarez first came upon Liverpool’s radar, apparently).
However, despite his value as an entertaining and dangerous footballer, there have always been doubts about whether Suarez has that last 5% that pushes a player or, in his case, a striker, over the edge into the much hallowed ‘World Class’ category.
For Liverpool fans, this has never been in doubt. Some of the things he does beggar belief. Normal footballers wouldn’t even conceive of some of the things that our Uruguayan maestro manages to pull of with embarrassing ease. I have even noticed one or two of late uttering the phrase ‘if Messi had done that…. ‘.
The problem though, was his goal-scoring prowess. Or lack of. It has long been the belief that for as talented as he is, Suarez doesn’t score enough goals to be considered amongst the best strikers in the world. And, for a while, I’ve kind of agreed. But the skill with which he put away the equalizer against Newcastle on Sunday led me to dig a bit deeper, and the facts are a bit astounding, to say the least. I always thought his critics were a bit harsh because while does tend to squander a lot of chances, he also creates most of them himself but the stats show a very good striker who just happens to be a rather critical team player.
With his 10 goals this season, in all competitions, Suarez is easily Liverpool’s top scorer. Not only that, but he’s also provided 4 assists too, which means he has contributed either directly – or assisted – 14 goals this season. So, his current goals tally takes him to 31 in 66 appearances in all competitions since he signed in January 2010. Add assists to that and you’re looking at a contribution of 48 goals either scored or assisted by Luis Suarez since we signed him. For what we paid, I’d say that that is a massive return already.
Not only this but if you take a quick look at the goal-scoring charts in the Premier League this season, Suarez is currently joint second with Demba Ba. Which, when you consider that Liverpool’s start to the season has been pretty bad, one can only imagine what his goals tally would look like had we actually found it a little easier to score goals this season.
Some might point to Messi’s goals tally in comparison to Suarez’s but, as with Mr. Ronaldo, it’s much easier to score a crap-full of goals when you’re in one of the two best sides in the world. Put Messi in this current Liverpool side, and he would struggle to come close to his current tally.
Compared to the Spanish giants, this Liverpool side has a very long way to go. We have some quality players and some genuine talents coming through our ranks, as well as some senior players that have yet to hit anything like what is expected of them this season, but we are in dire need of reinforcements, as well as shifting some of the dead-weights lingering on like a decade-old bad smell.
If we can move on some of the Downing’s and Cole’s in January, some of the names being linked – primarily, Huntelaar – may well shift the burden from Suarez and give the team a shot in the arm. It would be the first step in providing Luis with the kind of team-mates he sorely deserves.
It is very early days yet and Suarez may well endure a torrid time at some point this season that’ll makes his goal-scoring stats look not so impressive, but I have, in all honesty, yet to see Suarez have a bad game in a Red shirt. He’s frustrating, bordering on infuriating at times, but he always gives his all, and he always puts in a performance and if those much needed reinforcements arrive in January, we may well see even more goals from this legend in the making.