Luis Suarez Rated Above Neymar as Jamie Carragher, Brendan Rodgers Hail Striker

Matt Jones@@MattJFootballFeatured ColumnistJanuary 19, 2016

Barcelona's Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez celebrates his goal during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs Athletic Club Bilbao at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on January 17, 2016.   AFP PHOTO/ JOSEP LAGO / AFP / JOSEP LAGO        (Photo credit should read JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images)
JOSEP LAGO/Getty Images

Jamie Carragher and Brendan Rodgers have hailed the talents of their former colleague Luis Suarez, as the Barcelona striker continues to impress in La Liga.

The former Reds defender and manager were quizzed on the forward during Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football, just a day on from Suarez scoring a hat-trick for the Blaugrana in a 6-0 win over Athletic Club.

Carragher feels that, at the moment, the Uruguayan is a better player than his team-mate, Neymar, and deserves to considered alongside the great names of the game.

“I think he's the best striker in the world, I think he's better than Neymar,” the ex-defender said of Suarez, per Ben Nagle of the MailOnline. “He’s part of a three; Messi, Ronaldo and Suarez, certainly the last two years.”

Rodgers also spoke about his former player, who came tantalisingly close to firing Liverpool to the Premier League title in the 2013-14 season, insisting he is on track to become the world’s very best player, per Nagle:

He's certainly on his way [to becoming the best]. For him not to be in the top three of the Ballon d'Or was incredible and it tells you that there's other politics behind him not being involved in that bracket.

He left Liverpool as a world-class player and he's gone into a Barcelona team that was already up there and made them better. Playing with that level of players as well has obviously made him a better player. He's still young enough to win that accolade but he's certainly up there with the best. 

If I were to have a striker in my team, apart from Lionel Messi, he's certainly the one. I see him playing in a team that allows him to maximise his abilities. 

BANGKOK, THAILAND - JULY 27:  Luis Suarez looks on as manager Brendan Rodgers (R) oversees a Liverpool FC training session at Rajamangala Stadium on July 27, 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand.  (Photo by Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images)
Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images

Suarez certainly deserves to be in the conversation. Along with Lionel Messi and Neymar he’s formed an incredible attacking trident at the Camp Nou that has a brilliant blend of attributes and produces a ridiculous number of goals. The former Liverpool man, at the point of the attack, has led the line with distinction.

This term, with Messi missing for two months, it’s the Uruguayan and Neymar who have stepped up. Here’s how the attacking trio fare in statistical comparison this season:

Forward Comparison: Suarez, Messi, Neymar
Apps (Sub)1812 (2)17
Shots per game3.95.14.2
Key passes per game1.41.93.9
Dribbles per game1.24.64.8

There were certainly some eyebrows raised when Suarez wasn’t included in the top three for the Ballon d’Or. Messi was a deserved winner after a masterful 2015, but there would have been few complaints had the former Liverpool man ousted either Neymar or Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

Messi and Neymar hailed the forward at the Ballon d'Or gala, per James Dutton of the MailOnline. "He deserved to be here, but he will be on future occasions," said the Argentinian. "The dream was for Suarez to be here too," Neymar added. "All three of us deserved to be this year."

Barcelona's Brazilian forward Neymar da Silva Santos Junior (L), Barcelona's Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez (R) and Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi arrive to take part in a training session at the Sports Center FC Barcelona Joan Gamper in Sant
JOSEP LAGO/Getty Images

After a slow start at Barcelona, the forward burst into life in 2015 when manager Luis Enrique used him in a central position. From there, his play helped transform the Blaugrana; Suarez went on to score the decisive goal in Barca’s 3-1 Champions League final win over Juventus.

This term he's taken his game on further. Here are some of the highlights of what has been a sensational 2015-16 season for the striker so far:

If he continues to improve, then Suarez will ultimately be revered alongside the likes of Messi and Ronaldo. Currently, he’s arguably just below both of those, but a return of 29 goals in 29 games is similar to the kind of figures the illustrious pair tot up.

What’s encouraging for Barca fans is that even Messi, Neymar and Suarez clearly enjoy playing as a trio. That’s helped the latter up his game at the Camp Nou, and given all the dirty work he does off the ballsomething Neymar and Messi aren’t too keen to indulge inyou could argue Suarez is the most important cog in this attack.