This time last season Luis Suárez played his first game for Barça in a 3-1 defeat at the Bernábeu. The Uruguayan had just completed a four-month ban for chomping on Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder in the World Cup and there was immense expectation to see the €81 million signing teaming up with Leo Messi and Neymar Jr in Barça’s attack. The pressure was on Suárez to prove he was worth the money and with Leo Messi playing his false nine role he was initially asked to play on the right-side of the attack.
Suárez’s talent was immediately evident but he failed to find the net until his first goal against Apoel in the Champions League on November 26, and he didn’t score in La Liga until his eighth game, a 5-0 win over Cordoba on December 20. The goals began to flow after Christmas when he was moved to centre-forward with Messi moving to the right. The formula worked perfectly and Barça clinched a magnificent treble of Liga, Copa and Champions League with an incredible 122 goals coming from the three star forwards.
Suárez’s role in that success was vital. He scored 25 goals in the 2014/15 season including the winner in the Camp Nou Clásico, two incredibly important braces at Man City and at Paris Saint Germain in the Champions League knock-out stage, and the icing on the cake came with his crucial strike against Juventus in the Champions League Final in Berlin.
Ten more goals have been added this season taking his total to an impressive 35 goals in his first year. Barça have suffered with injuries and all sorts of off-the-field problems but Suárez has been admirable in his sacrifice for the team. The last few days have been particularly difficult for the club with the fine from Uefa, the allegations of a linesman being pressured into favouring Madrid and the sad news of Johan Cruyff’s lung cancer. Yesterday’s game against Eibar could have caused us more pain when the visitors took an early lead. It was a poor team performance from Barça but Suárez converted his three chances into a splendid hat-trick to keep Barça level with Madrid at the top of La Liga.
The form of both Suárez and Neymar has been excellent in Messi’s absence and has led some to ask whether Messi will finish this season as the club’s top scorer. I wouldn’t bet against the Argentinian but just the fact that the question is being posed is a demonstration of the Uruguayan and the Brazilian’s contribution. I’ll leave the question open to you and add another one: Suárez or Eto’o? Who has been Barça’s best out-and-out striker of the 21st century?