Luis Suarez has been one of the best strikers in the world who could single-handedly change the course of the game. His finishing and his directness towards the opposition made him one of the lethal strikers in the world. A Player who was involved in so much controversy due to his biting incidents and racist behaviour, he reformed himself. His reformation came not just as a player but also as a person. His lethal overall play was the reason Liverpool came so close to winning the Premier League after so many years. But six years after joining Barca, what went wrong? And why the 33-year-old still start for Barca despite declining for the past few seasons?
Luis Suarez: El Pistolero (The Gunfighter)
In the summer of 2014, Barca signed Luis Suarez for a fee of around €82.3 million making him one of the most expensive players of that time. He came to Barca after a stellar 2013/14 season for Liverpool. In the season where he won the Player of the Year, he scored 33 goals and provided 17 assists. He single-handedly carried Liverpool to the 2nd position where they just missed the premier league title.
In the 2014 World Cup, Suarez was undoubtedly a starter for Uruguay. Uruguay never made it big, but Suarez was again in the news for the wrong reasons. In their match against Italy, Suarez was involved in a biting incident with Chiellini. Despite that, Barca went for him to be their new No 9. His start was halted as he was banned in attending any football-related event by CAS. He made his debut against Real Madrid and assisted a goal.
Luis Suarez’s first season was a memorable one as he scored 25 goals and assisted 20 in all competitions. He was the part of the fantastic trio of MSN who made history by scoring 122 goals in a single season in between the 3. Luis Suarez’s first season was remarkable as it was the last time FC Barcelona won the UCL. Suarez also scored in the UCL Final against Juventus as Barca won the treble in 2015. Despite starting his first match for FC Barcelona in November due to his suspension, he was instrumental in the treble-winning season.
TOTAL MATCHES – 43 GOALS – 25 (16 La Liga, 7 UCL, 7 CDR) ASSISTS – 23
The 2015/16 season was undoubtedly the best season Suarez had with FC Barcelona. He started the season with a goal and an assist in a 5-4 victory over Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup. In the first Clasico of the season, he scored two goals as FC Barcelona comfortably thrashed Madrid 4-0 at their home turf. His goalscoring was at its peak as in this season as he scored four goals in 3 different matches. The best thing about that was he scored four goals in 2 consecutive La Liga games. He finished the season with 40 goals and 16 assists becoming the first players who led both the charts.
This won him the Pichichi award for the season ahead of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. He also became the first Player except for Messi and Ronaldo to win the Pichichi and European Golden Shoe since 2009. The front three of Messi, Suarez, and Neymar finished the season with 131 goals, breaking the record they had set the previous year for most goals by an attacking trio in a single season.
TOTAL MATCHES – 53 GOALS – 59 (40 La Liga, 9 UCL, 4 CDR, 2 Club World Cup, 1 Super Cup, 1 Supercopa) ASSISTS – 24
The 2016/17 season is a season that Barca fans will remember for one particular match. This is the same season in which FC Barcelona turned a 4-0 first-leg deficit and won 6-1 against PSG in the UCL Round of 16. Suarez was phenomenal this season in La Liga, but he didn’t show the same form in the UCL. In the 9 matches he started that season in the UCL, he scored only 3 goals. Barca couldn’t defend the league title, and Real Madrid won it. Barca, despite doing the Remontada, were knocked out at the Quarter Final stage at the hands of Juventus.
TOTAL MATCHES – 51 GOALS – 37 (29 La Liga, 3 UCL, 4 CDR, 1 Supercopa) ASSISTS – 18
2017/18, 2018/19, and 2019/20 Season:
In the past 3 seasons, Barca has won 2 La Liga titles and 2 Copa Del Rey. But, the 3 seasons have one thing in common, and its the manner how Barca got knocked out of the UCL. Barca for 2 consecutive seasons after having a good first-leg lead collapsed in the second leg and were knocked out. The latest humiliation against Bayern was the last nail in the coffin for Barca.
2017/18 : TOTAL MATCHES – 51 GOALS – 31 (25 La Liga, 1 UCL, 5 CDR) ASSISTS – 19
2018/19: TOTAL MATCHES – 49 GOALS – 25 (21 La Liga, 1 UCL, 3 CDR) ASSISTS – 13
2019/20: TOTAL MATCHES – 36 GOALS – 21 (16 La Liga, 5 UCL) ASSISTS – 12
When I mention the decline of Luis Suarez, it is both the collective decline of the team and his personal one. FC Barcelona has been in a decline since Rossell took over as president. That came to at an absurd end with his resignation, with Bartomeu being the president since then. The team needed players who are talented and young. But that didn’t happen. Acquisitions like Paulinho and Vidal both over their 30, shows a lot about the Barca of today.
That has affected the team, and the current conditions are the result of it. The likes of Messi, Suarez, Neymar, Pique hid this team’s problems as they were talented enough to win games. But as soon these players are coming to the end of their careers, the team showed its true colours. The UCL knockouts are the result of it. But Messi, despite being 32, is still providing his best not just in terms of goals but also in assists. But now, with Suarez’s downfall, he lacks the partner he needs to finish off his passes.
Luis Suarez’s contributions have been consistent, but the stat which has shed a negative light on him is how frequently he misses big chances. Luis Suarez had scored a lot of goals and has carried Barca when Messi was injured, but lately, his contributions have dropped severely. He is a striker and when you have Messi in your team, who is providing with beautiful passes, its a duty to finish them off. He has lacked this for the past few seasons. Here is how many chances he missed under ‘Big Chances Missed’ and ‘Big Chances Created’. Every stat quoted below in for La Liga + UCL only and courtesy of SofaScore.
Season Big Chances Missed Big Chances Created
2017/18 29 20
2018/19 36 18
2019/20 17 5
The decline of him is not just something that a person can detect from his stats. It’s more of how he has been performing lately for FC Barcelona despite scoring a good amount of goals. Luis Suarez looks dejected on the pitch. It seems like he is not enjoying playing lately. He still has the qualities which many strikers don’t. He still scores decisive goals, but that hides what he does on the pitch.
Barca has felt short in the UCL since his first season where he was instrumental. And the knockouts Barca have faced for 3 straight seasons, doesn’t help him either. His last away goal in the UCL was in 2015 until he scored against Bayern in the 8-2 drubbing, which shows he has fallen short at the big stage. His finishing is not up to the mark lately. He missed 33 big chances last season in the League and the second Player on that list was Benzema, who missed 18. This shows Barca needs reinforcements in the Striker role.
His dribble succession rate has dropped drastically. Still, he tries to dribble, and Barca surrenders possession. The harsh reality of Suarez’s is the number of chances he misses. Messi is always for looking for him, but his finishing has been off lately. Lastly, when you look on the stats, his league numbers are good, but his Champions League stats have been abysmal.
FC Barcelona – What’s the road ahead?
Luis Suarez is a legend for FC Barcelona. He holds the record of being the 3rd highest goal scorer in FC Barcelona’s history which is just behind Legendary César and Lionel Messi. But every great thing has to come to an end. He no longer possesses the same kind of speed and offensive awareness he once used to. And Its time for Luiz Suarez to make way for younger players. With the new manager Koeman at the helm, and the transition phase going on, it would be better to find a replacement for Suarez.
As several reliable latest reports claim, Ajax are persuading Suarez to join them. It would be better for Suarez to finish his career at the club where he started his significant journey and earned his recognition as one of the best strikers in modern football.