Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has hailed Luis Suarez as the best player he's ever played with at Anfield, praising the Uruguayan striker after he received the Football Writers' Footballer of the Year award in London.
Suarez has enjoyed a scintillating campaign for Brendan Rodgers's side, picking up the Premier League Golden Boot and also winning the PFA Player of the Year accolade.
The South American was central to Liverpool's impressive season, which saw them finish as runners-up, two points behind eventual winners Manchester City. It proved to be a vast improvement for a club that finished seventh in 2012/13, and Gerrard highlighted the influence of the 27-year-old talisman, who has helped bring Champions League football back to Merseyside.
"I've been privileged to play alongside some great players during my years at Liverpool but nobody comes close to Luis," he was quoted saying by the Daily Star. "He's not only the best, he's the best by some distance.
"We've all seen what he's done this season with his goals and his all-round brilliance and I think it's taken Luis on to a different level.
"Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the two best players in the world and have been for the last four or five years, but Luis is tucked right in there behind them now."
Suarez has enjoyed a meteoric rise to stardom over the past 12 months, after starting the season serving the remainder of his 10-match ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic at the back end of the previous campaign.
His list of misdemeanours had taken focus away from the incredible football he was already playing, but the Liverpool star has taken his game to another level in 2013/14, something that isn't lost on his team-mates.
"People look at him and will still pick up on the controversy that he's been involved with over the last couple of years," added Gerrard. "But I prefer to judge a person by how he responds to setbacks and the way Luis has responded has been magnificent.
"He was incredibly despondent last summer. He knew he'd let himself and the club down but, more importantly, he felt he'd let his family down.
"As captain, I was there for him. We talked a fair few times and I tried to be as supportive as I possibly could.
"It doesn't matter what words you come up with, though, it's down to the lad himself to respond - and Luis has certainly done that."
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