After a relatively slow start to his Barcelona career, Luis Suarez is beginning to come into his own in the Blaugrana half of Catalonia.
A four-month FIFA-imposed sabbatical was always going to have an effect on the Uruguayan’s general fitness and state of mind, so anyone suggesting that he would hit the ground running was barking up the wrong tree.
That his first contribution on debut in a Barca shirt was actually an assist for Neymar at the Santiago Bernabeu gave a nod to what was to come. And here we are, four further months on from that first appearance against Real Madrid, and the Suarez of Liverpool vintage is finally showing his face.
Much has already been made in certain circles of a lack of goals on Suarez’s part, but that neatly overlooks his full contribution elsewhere on the pitch. This calendar year alone, up to and including the Levante game, Suarez can count five assists to his name, to add to his four goals.
Sensational work rate
Furthermore, his work-rate has been nothing short of sensational. His appetite for the game, if you’ll forgive the pun, has been ravenous.
It’s perhaps worth mentioning that Suarez has gone from being the main man at Liverpool to a supplementary presence for Lionel Messi and a system that revolves around the Argentine captain.
Making a success of that kind of transition takes intelligence, hard graft and most importantly, time. Let’s not forget Neymar’s own struggles too from a year ago. Now, fully versed in the nuances of Barca’s system of play, the Brazilian is rivaling Messi as the king pin of the squad.
Form temporary, class permanent
We should certainly expect the same of Suarez from the beginning of next season. Even now his movement and interplay are becoming more complimentary to his attacking brethren on a game-by-game basis.
Taking a broader view, football folk need to bear in mind the old adage that “form is temporary, class is permanent.”
Just look at the malaise that Cristiano Ronaldo currently finds himself in. The Portuguese shared Suarez’s Golden Shoe with 31 league goals last season and I’d dismiss any notion that he isn’t the same player of 12 months ago.
Goals beginning to flow
The same courtesy should be extended to Suarez. Barcelona fans are a notoriously fickle bunch but even they are beginning to appreciate exactly what it is that Suarez brings to their front line.
Early comparisons are being made to the Henry-Messi-Eto’o triumvirate that ruled the European roost a few years ago. Whilst that might be a little premature, there’s little doubt that Barca’s vast £75 million spend is beginning to look like better value with each passing 90 minutes.
Once the goals start flowing then any suggestion of overpayment or discussion on whether the purchase was necessary or not is moribund.