Luis Suárez, unfillable shoes!

Luis Suárez, unfillable shoes!

Luis Suárez turned 33 last Friday. The Barcelona number 9 is currently sidelined with a knee injury sustained in the Supercopa in Saudi Arabia at the beginning of this month which required surgery.

The Uruguayan striker was enjoying a phenomenal run of form prior to this setback. 11 goals and 7 assists in 17 La Liga appearances, 3 goals and 2 assists in 5 Champions League games – the Catalan side’s go-to guy so far this campaign.

Quique Setién is three games into his reign in the Barça hotseat, all matches in which they have dominated possession. They had over 82% against Granada at home in La Liga on Gameweek 20, winning 1-0 with Lionel Messi the scorer of a late goal.

They dominated the ball again in the midweek Copa del Rey victory away at Segunda B side Ibiza, enjoying 78% possession, coming from behind to win 2-1, thanks to two second-half Antoine Griezmann strikes.

In Saturday’s 2-0 away league defeat at Valencia, Barcelona had 74% possession, yet both sides had five attempts on target. While Lionel Messi had a number of half-chances, particularly towards the end as the Azulgrana chased the game, they seemed to run out of ideas in the final third.

It’s clearly very early days in Setién’s tenure as head coach and the Cantabrian requires time to work with the players and implement his ideas/strategy on the side. However, early indications are they presently lack cutting edge, someone to create a spark in the final third, Suárez essentially.

While Griezmann was sharp midweek against Ibiza and has the potential to step up and score regularly, it remains to be seen if the former Atletico Madrid forward can do so consistently and help Lionel Messi maintain the Blaugrana title challenge.

Messi is quietly going about his business as usual with 14 goals and 6 assists in 14 league games for the Argentine. These are numbers we have come to expect from Messi, two goals clear of Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema in the race for the Pichichi.

Real Madrid are now mounting a solid push for the league title, three points clear at the top of the table following Sunday night’s 1-0 victory away at Real Valladolid, while Barcelona will hope to start converting possession into goals to keep pace with Los Blancos over the coming weeks.

Suárez has scored goals wherever he has played. It’s now 429 league games in total in Europe for the Uruguayan since he first featured for Groningen in the Eredivisie in 2006 and he has scored 302 goals and provided 171 assists during that time, a seriously impressive return.

A fair comparison of Suarez’s figures to make would be with Sergio Agüero. The Argentine, a similar out and out number 9 like Suárez, has played for Atletico Madrid and Manchester City in exactly the same period of 06/07 up until the present season.

Agüero boasts 263 goals scored and 82 assists in 450 league games played in Europe including 180 league goals for City since 11/12, excellent numbers from arguably the greatest striker to play in the Premier League.

These numbers show Suarez has scored more than the Manchester City striker but more telling is the fact he has more than double the number of assists that Agüero has. This stat holds true in the current campaign where he leads the way with the joint most assists in La Liga on seven.

This will more than likely be surpassed before el pistolero returns from injury, the most likely being his club-mate Lionel Messi on six assists but it shows the important role that Suarez plays in both scoring and creating for his side.

The prognosis on when exactly the Uruguayan will return to the side is somewhat unclear, with the official Barcelona twitter account posting a photo showing Suárez beginning his rehabilitation work post surgery last week.

What seems to be clear is that this Barcelona side, which is in the process of transitioning mid-season between the management ideas of Ernesto Valverde and Quique Setién, could do with Suárez leading the line, scoring and creating goals as he has always done, in their quest to retain the league title and advance to the latter stages of the Champions League.

Even at the age of 33 and supposedly past his prime, there is nobody who Barcelona could realistically sign this month that is capable of fully filling Suarez’s boots.

by John Dillon – @dillo10 on Twitter

Featured Image by HaGamal HaTeimani, CC BY-SA 4.0

About John Dillon 2 Articles
John is a football writer based in Madrid, mainly covering La Liga.

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