Luis Suarez Might Be the Best Player in the World Right Now

Graham RuthvenFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2014


Has a team ever sat atop the Premier League at this stage of the season with so many question marks held against its title candidacy? Liverpool are two points clear in first place, with just six games left to play, yet so many continue to question whether Brendan Rodgers' side can actually win the title.

It's a silly question. Of course they can. As Gerard Houllier once said, Liverpool are six "games from greatness." But their title challenge is fragile and has been built on the exploits of one man: Luis Suarez. Certainly the best in the Premier League, Suarez might even be the best in the world right now. Yes, even better than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Between the Uruguayan striker, captain Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool are being dragged to their first league title in 24 years. They are the central trio in Rodgers' dynamic and swaggering Liverpool side, taking 35 points from a possible 39 in 2014.

Jon Super

But as much as Gerrard and Sturridge have impressed, Suarez is the kingpin. Without him, through hypothetical injury or suspension, Liverpool's title charge would surely lose its momentum.

Suarez has already scored more league goals for Liverpool than Fernando Torres ever did. The decision to offload the Spaniard to Chelsea for £50 million, which was then partly reinvested in the £22.7 million deal for Suarez, is looking better with every passing game and every passing goal.

Liverpool have a strong tradition of celebrated No. 9s, and although he wears No. 7, the Uruguayan deserves to be ranked alongside club greats such as Ian Rush, Kenny Dalglish and Robbie Fowler.

But Suarez is so good he now transcends even Liverpool's illustrious history. He's already writing his legend in the context of the sport as a whole, and should he lead an otherwise mediocre Liverpool team to the title, he will have penned the climax to his story in English football.

Let's compare Suarez's numbers and figures for the season to that of the Big Two—Ronaldo and Messi. Of course, the latter missed a significant chunk of the campaign through injury, but even still, Suarez's goals-to-games ratio is marginally superior, scoring a league average of 1.07 goals per game, compared to Messi's 1.05 per game.

Paul White

In the race for this season's Golden Boot, Suarez, with 29 league goals, leads Ronaldo, on 28 goals, and Messi, 23 goals. He also boasts 11 assists for the season, one more than Messi and three more than Ronaldo. Consider the quality that permeates through both Ronaldo and Messi's respective teams, and Suarez's achievements look all the more impressive.

Ronaldo can call on players such as Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, Xabi Alonso, Isco and so on to provide him with endless opportunities. The same applies to Messi, who has Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Neymar and Cesc Fabregas. Suarez doesn't have that luxury. Joe Allen, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson don't really have the same gravitas.

Real Madrid and Barcelona are exceptional teams all the way through. That can't be said of Liverpool, and thus strengthens Suarez's case as the best on the planet even further.

"All season, he's been up there with Messi and Ronaldo," said Fowler following Suarez's performance against Spurs on Sunday, as per Henry Winter of The Telegraph. "He's scored more than they have, which is crazy. He deserves to be ranked alongside them. He's special."

For some it's still difficult to appreciate Suarez, even when presented with his undeniable brilliance. His chequered past and disciplinary record don't just taint the opinion of rival fans but that of neutrals too. Many will never see him as anything other than a volatile and unpredictable pantomime villain.

Jon Super

Yet he has been embraced by the Anfield faithful since having his head turned by Arsenal and the allure of immediate Champions League football in the summer. Suarez is no longer pouting and preening at Arsene Wenger, but considering the year he's enjoying, the 27-year-old will hardly need attract further attention to himself when the summer transfer window opens.

Suarez has become Europe's best all-round striker. He always possessed a rapid turn of pace, squirming trickery and an innate audacity, but he has added a sharp cutting edge and goalscoring consistency to his game under Rodgers' mentorship.

Indeed, Jamie Carragher admitted on Sky Sports' Monday Night Football that, having shared a dressing room with Suarez for a year-and-a-half, it is a "slight surprise" to see how far he has progressed in the space of the last 18 months.

Rodgers says Suarez is on track to become football's first £100 million player, but of course, for the striker to be anointed as such, he would have to be sold. And that would completely undermine all that Liverpool have achieved this season.

Liverpool must keep hold of Suarez. They might have the best player in the world on their hands.