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Luis Suarez: Is He Delivering Value on Barcelona's £75M Outlay?

Jason Pettigrove@@jaypetti1971Contributor IFebruary 13, 2015

Luis Suarez is doing just fine at Barcelona.
Luis Suarez is doing just fine at Barcelona.Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Luis Suarez continues to divide opinion since his move from Liverpool to Barcelona.

The Uruguayan was always playing catch-up to his team-mates in terms of fitness given a FIFA-imposed sabbatical at the start of the season, and so in many respects the critics need to take a broader view of Suarez's current form.

This incident led to a four-month ban from football for Luis Suarez.
This incident led to a four-month ban from football for Luis Suarez.Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

In general terms, when a club pays out top-end transfer fees, in Suarez's case £75 million, there is an immediate expectation to deliver.

For a striker, that invariably means goals. And a lot of them.

With 31 league goals last season, tying Suarez with Cristiano Ronaldo as holder of the European Golden Shoe, an assumption that he would continue in the same vein isn't unfair.

Luis Suarez hasn't yet replicated his Golden Shoe winning form in front of goal for Barca.
Luis Suarez hasn't yet replicated his Golden Shoe winning form in front of goal for Barca.David Ramos/Getty Images

However, after four months out of the game after his World Cup indiscretions, it was always going to take time for Suarez to get back into the goalscoring groove again.

Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly than the stats in his goals-for column, Suarez has had to learn a new way of playing.

This Barca team revolves around Lionel Messi, the Blaugrana playing to his strengths at all times. Like Neymar a year before him, Suarez has had to adapt to that and play second fiddle in a lot of ways.

That is by no means an easy transition to make.

Trying to curtail your own natural predatory instincts for the benefit of another is almost anathema to a striker's modus operandi. The best strikers in the world live for goals, and Suarez is certainly in that top bracket.

By becoming more of a second striker rather than the main man he was at Anfield, it's a natural conclusion that the goals won't flow as often as he was used to.

Not only does Suarez need to accept that fact but also the Barca faithful need to understand and deal with it.

So, how else might he provide value on such a huge outlay? 

Well, to start, he can make inroads up the assists charts, something that he is so doing at present.

Suarez has become an integral part of Barcelona's triple attacking threat.
Suarez has become an integral part of Barcelona's triple attacking threat.Siu Wu/Associated Press

Per ESPN, with eight assists, Suarez is only two behind table-topper Messi and ahead of the more celebrated, in passing/assist terms, Toni Kroos.

Secondly, working hard for the team would be a prerequisite. And here too Suarez excels.

We might have expected a prima donna-type attitude to work given the player's status, but to his credit, since Suarez arrived in Catalonia, he has shown a propensity for hard graft and getting in amongst it that has shone through in almost all of his performances.

Indeed, WhoScored.com note that his 0.9 tackles per game are better than both Messi and Neymar's average of 0.8.

Football365 @F365

The third-best player in the world? The @WhoScored ratings say Luis Suarez. http://t.co/cEafvWAYLC http://t.co/u0icucubMf

We are seeing as the season progresses that the triple threat are beginning to understand the various facets of each others' game, and their movement and interplay are becoming more complementary on a game-by-game basis.

This aspect of Suarez's employment shouldn't be overlooked either.

Take Neymar as an example also and recall the player he was 12 months ago to the one which we are seeing presently. There's no comparison.

So, when we talk about value for money and given all of the variables involved, the only thing that's really missing from his game is a few more additions in the goals column.

Once they start to flow, and they will, then this will be a non-argument.

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