In the year 2013 perhaps no other footballer has grabbed as many newspaper headlines as Luis Suarez. From jaw-dropping tricks and incredible hat-tricks to transfer rumours and cannibalistic humours, Luis Suarez nicknamed ‘el pistolero’, has produced it all with Liverpool in the past twelve months.
Earlier this year at Stamford Bridge, Suarez shocked fans and opponents alike after he was found guilty sinking his teeth onto Chelsea‘s burly centre-back Branislav Ivanovic’s broad shoulder. Astoundingly, Suarez did not receive a red-card for his vampirism at the time with the referee failing to get a clear view of the incident.
However the FA was not willing to let his actions go unpunished and slapped the striker with a 10-game ban which cut short an otherwise excellent season. As a result, Suarez lost out on the Premier League Golden Boot after his tally of 26 goals was eventually overtaken by Manchester United’s Robin Van Persie.
Incidentally it was not the first time Suarez was reprimanded for such behaviour. Prior to joining Liverpool, he had been banned for biting another opponent during his time with Ajax in the Dutch Eredivisie.
Suarez has undoubtedly been responsible for some of the most deranged incidents seen in the Premier League. Yet at the same time he has produced some of the most mesmerising moments in the history of the Premiership that has helped him to stamp his class amongst the most potent strikers in the world today.
At Anfield last week, Luis Suarez once again demonstrated what he is capable when he is at his very best after smashing four goals against Norwich City, including two stunning gems that helped steer Liverpool to a mammoth 5-1 victory. It was Suarez’s third hat-trick against the Canaries and he becomes the only player in the Premier League to poach three hat-tricks against the same opposition.
The Uruguayan striker is also the current leading goal-scorer in the Premier League with 15 goals from 10 games. But what makes his feat even more remarkable is that he has managed it after missing first six games of the season due to his suspension. Nevertheless, his phenomenal strike-rate has helped Liverpool maintain its bright start to the current campaign with the Reds sitting just 4 points behind league-leaders Arsenal.
During the summer transfer window, Arsenal’s manager Arsene Wenger wished bid to prise Suarez away from Anfield and launched a £40 million bid in the hope of triggering a buyout clause in the striker’s contract. Although Liverpool flatly refused the offer, Suarez was still expected in some quarters to make the move to Arsenal in order to fulfil his wishes of playing in Europe’s premier club competition, the UEFA Champion’s League.
But in spite all of the tremendous speculation, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers managed to retain Suarez for at least a season more. He in fact stressed that the Uruguayan ‘owes’ the club and especially its fans for their support for the striker through the good as well as the hard times. Yet he still expected Suarez to play a pivotal role for the Reds in the coming season.
Suarez had to watch from the stands while his strike-partner Daniel Sturridge spearheaded Liverpool’s bright start to the campaign. Three goals from Sturridge in the opening three games had propelled the Merseysiders to the top of the Premiership. But by the time Liverpool lost at home to Southampton, the fans were crying for the return of ‘el pistolero’, who had just finished serving the final game of his 10-match ban.
Since his return Suarez has been nothing short of spectacular. Scoring goals for fun at the moment, ‘el pistolero’ has become a living nightmare for goalkeepers and defenders. The striker looks determined to make up for lost time and has in fact pull a managed to get a healthy lead in the goal-scorers’ charts.
Yet it has not been just about the number of goals but rather the manner in which Suarez has gathered them that has generated greater wonder and appreciation. Tap-ins, headers, long shots, volleys, free-kicks – no matter what it requires to get goals Luis Suarez provided it with lethal efficacy this season from just about anywhere in the opposition half.
There is no doubt that Suarez’s form will be the driving force for Liverpool’s bid to return amongst the elite of Europe next season. Although the Reds currently lie in 2nd position in the Premier League, manager Brendan Rodgers has maintained that finishing in the top-4 is the more realistic target rather than challenging for the Premiership title. But failure to reach that target at the end of the season may some ramifications for Rodgers.
Suarez has repaid the Liverpool fans for their support by committing his short-term future with the club and delivering some utterly spell-binding performances. However if the Reds do not manage to gain qualification for the Champions’ League next season, Suarez will most-likely depart from Merseyside for good. With growing interest from the likes of Real Madrid, the temptation may just be too much to resist for ‘el pistolero’.