It has been a season of redemption for Suarez, who started the campaign completing a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic last April. Since returning, he has gone on to put away 29 goals (and counting) for Liverpool and is the frontrunner for the PFA Player of the Year award.
His role for Liverpool has been pivotal, and instrumental to their success this season, with Brendan Rodgers affording him the freedom to excel to his strengths.
For Uruguay this summer, the transition between club and country will most likely be seamless, with Suarez’s role for his teams very similar.
At Liverpool, Suarez is constantly readjusting his position, making himself available and giving Premier League defenders torrid afternoons.
He utilises the full width of the pitch in the final third, which concentrates his energy toward one threatening area of the pitch.
Suarez begins his attacking phases of play roughly around where the yellow box is (see Figure 1), chasing down balls and looking to drive play forward, or into wide appears of space.
Such is the dynamic, constant adjusting of his game, that Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling have the freedom to both drift into space and attacking positions and also draw defenders from Suarez's path to goal.
For Uruguay, the situation is similar, with Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan supporting Suarez's relentless contributions.
Sam Tighe wrote in his tactical preview of Uruguay on Bleacher Report, that "the forwards are often asked to create their own danger, with perhaps help from the second line of attack in Cristian Rodriguez, Nicolas Lodeiro or Gaston Ramirez."
Goals and Assists
Goals are key to defining Suarez’s role for both club and country.
This season, Suarez’s 29 goals in 29 games means he carries with him an appetising goal ratio of 1.0 ahead of Liverpool facing Norwich City—against whom Suarez has previously scored three hat-tricks—this Sunday.
With 39 goals in 77 international appearances, Suarez’s goal ratio for Uruguay stands at 0.49 and he will be hungry to improve that at his year’s World Cup in Brazil.
But, just as goals aren’t the only attractive quality of his game for Liverpool, his provision of goals for others is key to his role for Uruguay too.
In 2013-14, Suarez has created 78 goalscoring chances for his club, according to Squawka, with Sturridge and Sterling the main recipients of his unselfish work.
According to ESPN, 12 of those chances have been converted—such is the fluid and exciting understanding between Liverpool’s attacking line-up.
For country, the stats are less flattering and Tabarez will be expecting a larger contribution to the team from Suarez this summer.
During his 13 appearances in Uruguay’s World Cup qualification campaign, Suarez provided just two assists, according to ESPN.
Brendan Rodgers gave some insight in February, as per James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo, into the tactical thinking behind what makes Suarez tick with his teammates in the Reds’ front line:
They interchange because they are floating players anyway and their movement is really dynamic. When they haven't got the ball they have to work like animals as there is a big responsibility on them to defend that side of the field.
After the season Liverpool have had, Tabarez would do well to study the strategies Rodgers has implemented at Anfield this season, which have successfully drawn out the best in Suarez and his teammates.
Iconic Status and Character
Undeniably, however Suarez is played in the team, he is an icon of both Liverpool and Uruguay.
This season, with some help from his PR team in improving his English and arranging media interviews, Suarez has gone a long way toward improving his reputation.
He is an unpredictable character, but one that is showing growing signs of maturity, exemplified when he was handed the Liverpool captain’s armband during the absence of Steven Gerrard and Daniel Agger earlier in the season.
Daniel Taylor of The Guardian wrote back in September:
Maybe there will be a greater understanding that he cannot continue undermining his own brilliance at a club that has persistently, sometimes desperately, redrawn the line every time he has crossed it. Or maybe we should just fasten our seatbelts and understand that, at this stage of his professional life, second-guessing Suárez and what he is capable of, both good and bad, is never going to be straightforward.
His passion for football and will to win never leaves him though, and is ingrained in him from Uruguayan culture, as football blog La Celeste explained:
There is a popular South American saying that states: “Countries have their history. Uruguay has its football”. To Luis Suarez, completing a comeback win or scoring a dramatic goal is like re-creating the mythical feats and legends that he (and every Sky Blue player) grew up on and value to this day. For others it may seem weird to see a player care so much, but to me seeing Luis Suarez play like he does is very normal.
Suarez is a brilliant and complex figure who is capable of pulling off the sublime and unreadable, which is what makes him such a force in his roles for both Liverpool and Uruguay.
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