Luis Suarez – best in the world?

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    Luis Suarez scores Liverpool's opener against Cardiff.

    There’s no doubt about it, Luis is doing the business this year, and aren’t we all over the moon that he’s committed to doing so in a red shirt?  A relatively unmediated negotiation when you consider the contract size and profile of the player has provided Merseyside with a Christmas gift like no other.

    Luis Suarez scores Liverpool's opener against Cardiff.
    Luis Suarez lines up a volley to score Liverpool’s opener against Cardiff.

    And what a response from Suarez, immediately providing a return on the investment put forward from the club by having a hand in all three goals in the 3-1 win over Cardiff. Ask anyone walking out of Anfield this weekend to describe Luis Suarez and – regardless of which end they were sitting in – they would have agreed he is a world-class talent. But where does he stand when we compare him with the best?

    When we think of world-class players, two names immediately spring to mind – Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Needing no introduction, these two players dominate football wherever they are mentioned. Even when surrounded by World Cup winners, Champions League winners and the most expensive player in the world, Ronaldo and Messi cast a shadow over every player that they rub shoulders with.

    Football is of course a team sport, but when performances from a single player are winning matches week-in-week-out, it is natural that they will rise to the top and claim the majority of the glory. As Liverpool sit pretty in the league, the media will inevitably accredit the large part of this success to Suarez and his goals this season.

    Going into the weekend, Suarez had scored seventeen times in eleven games – more goals than Tottenham have managed this season. When you compare his stats to the two aforementioned players, he is showing he can mix it with the big boys as well. Suarez equals Ronaldo’s tally so far this season, but has done so in four less games. Although many would think this is a better feat, the reason why Luis has had to sit these out certainly takes him down a peg or two, and is one thing that maybe stops him being top of the list of most sought after players.

    Messi cannot get anywhere near Suarez in terms of scoring so far this term, having netted ‘just’ eight times in the same amount of games, which is less than half the return of his rivals. However, it is not just goals that has prompted many to rank Messi as the best in the world. His slick playing style, low centre of gravity, ability to run at players and retain the ball, his quick eye for a pass and ability to deliver, and to cap it off precise finishing all make the player one of the best.

    Could the description be used to describe Suarez? I can’t see too much that doesn’t fit. In fact the playing styles of both of the players are very similar; spectacular to watch and very hard to play against.

    So with a better goal per game ratio than both of the big two, and a playing style equally desirable, Suarez fits the bill. Even more impressive is the fact that he earns his crust in the Premier League. The best league in the world attracts the better players and in turn tougher opposition, making it harder to perform for any player out there on a match day.

    The results of this level of competition are being shown in the Champions League so far this term with all four English clubs into the knockout phases. When you look into the Spanish league there are only ever really two challenging teams, with the rest of the sides a class below. For the better players, it means that they are pushed less often, and have more opportunity to get goals and put in performances against opposition of a lower standard. Even when not playing at the top of their game, the likes of Ronaldo and Messi can put on a dominant display.

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