Without a doubt, Luis Suarez is a phenomenon. You might like him, you might not, but no debate is needed when it comes to the man’s ability with a football. Equally, there might not be the need for any debate when it comes to the Uruguayans antics on the pitch. They include breaking Ghanaian hearts, when he handled a shot in the dying minutes of a World Cup 2010 quarter final to deny the Africans a deserved victory, head-butting a referee, after being sent off, and biting an opponent on two different occasions, most recently Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup. Although it would have added spice to tonight’s Champions League final, the Italian had to pull out with a calf injury.
Always known as a great talent, Suarez’ career began at Uruguay’s Club Nacional, one of South America’s most successful clubs. The striker made his first team debut at age 18 in 2005, scoring his first goal four months later. In Uruguay, he had a rather dismal disciplinary record and was often urged to focus on football for the sake of his career. One of the stabilising factors in the life of Luis Suarez had always been his girlfriend Sofia, who moved to Barcelona with her family in 2005. The two maintained a long-distance relationship and the distance helped Suarez to concentrate on football, with the belief that he could eventually earn a move to Europe to be reunited with his sweetheart. That move came in 2006, when Dutch side Groningen bought the player, after watching him during a league game by coincidence.
Struggling with the language and culture of The Netherlands, the 19-year old Suarez was first installed as a reserve team player, but due to his efforts with the language in particular, he managed to quickly adjust and finished his debut season with 10 goals in 29 appearances. This was enough to convince domestic giants Ajax to part with €7.5 million to secure the Uruguayan’s services. In hindsight, Ajax can look back at the deal as an incredible bargain, as the striker went from strength to strength, scoring 81 goals for the Amsterdam-based club in only 110 appearances. He was subsequently purchased by English giants Liverpool for a fee of €26.5 million and repaid the faith with an impressive 69 goals in 110 appearances in England’s top flight.
Having caused controversy during his time in England yet again, Suarez was ready to move on at the end of last season and was purchased by Barcelona for an impressive fee of €81 million. Although initially banned from playing due to the ‘Chiellini incident’, Suarez has firmly established himself as a critical member of Barca’s lethal strike force. In fact, he is one of the main reasons behind Messi’s improved form and Neymar’s significant growth in Barcelona. Suarez plays a game that is incredibly unselfish and he creates opportunities for his fellow attackers. As he is the hard-working one in attack, Messi and Neymar are allowed to play a game that is exclusively focused on attacking. At times, Suarez’ involvement in build up play is so good, he almost looks like an attacking midfielder.
Nevertheless, the Uruguayan boasts a decent goalscoring record, having netted 16 times in 27 La Liga matches. Perhaps more intriguingly, Suarez has provided 17 assists this season, making him a very balanced player. Essentially, his partnership with Messi and Neymar is one of the most fascinating feats across Europe this year. As such, Juventus’ defence will have a hard time limiting these three to insignificance. We look forward to a great game and a Luis Suarez who can make a difference in a footballing sense.