Last week we used these pages to point out why the many issues that seem to follow him around will deprive Luis Suarez of the personal awards at the end of the season, but you can forget that now.
After his latest stellar display in Liverpool’s 3-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on Sunday―a match in which he outshone a certain Gareth Bale―those extra side-issues that many people seem desperate to cling on to should be pushed even further to the backs of minds.
Suarez’ goal―a typically impudent finish from a fine pass from Jose Enrique―was his 22nd of the Premier League season, taking him three clear of the previously uncatchable Robin van Persie. With Robbie Fowler’s Liverpool Premier League record of 28 strikes approaching very quickly, Suarez now has 29 across all competitions throughout the campaign.
The Uruguayan’s qualities have been discussed in great length and by a great many people already, of course, but until now they haven’t always been accepted by everyone.
That is undoubtedly to do with previous events, but judge him solely on this season and people will find it very hard to get hot under the collar about anything.
There was, of course, the blatant dive in an attempt to win a penalty in a frustrating goalless draw at home to Stoke City in October, after which Potters boss Tony Pulis wasted no time in running to the media and singling Suarez out for special punishment (BBC).
Of course the forward was in the wrong there―not so much with the attempt to dive but more by the fact that it was a shockingly bad one―but he’s hardly the first or last player to try such a stunt, although some of the coverage he received for the incident would make you believe that he was.
Suarez infamously later admitted that he did try and con the referee into awarding Liverpool a penalty on that afternoon (Guardian), but other than that incident it is tough to find many levels of controversy throughout his campaign. The handball incident against Mansfield in the FA Cup was so minor and blown out of proportion that it doesn’t merit another mention here.
If you were so inclined, you could tally up this season’s controversial Suarez moments alongside those of Bale―who has been booked for diving four times this campaign―and the Uruguayan is likely to come out possessing a rare smell of roses, but such comparisons are facile anyway. Both are supremely gifted players who should be judged on their footballing talents alone.
With Van Persie seemingly tiring and not proving as effective the longer the season goes on, the end-of-year awards could well come down to a shootout between Suarez and Bale. Suarez was on the winning team when the pair met at Anfield on Sunday, and he probably should be again.
So much of Bale’s outstanding quality is based on quick, split-second moments of genius that can decide the outcome of games. You might be able to keep him quiet for 89 minutes, but he can beat you in the 90th.
Suarez is barely ever that silent.
A constant presence in the game whatever the situation, the forward seems to thrive on the pressure of dragging Liverpool both through and back into matches. If he decided to play for a club such as Barcelona or Real Madrid one day―and he is good enough to do so―then perhaps we wouldn’t be seeing the same player. It would all be too easy for him.
At Liverpool he has to scrap and fight for everything that he and his team get, and that suits this talent right down to the ground.
He’s scrapping for the Premier League Player of the Year award right now, and that should be a fight he wins.