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Despite the concerns over how Suarez will fit into Barcelona's attack, Goal's Brendon Netto explains that the striker is a rare superstar who enjoys supporting his teammates.


     BY BRENDON NETTO     Follow @BrendonNetto


Love him or hate him, there’s no denying Luis Suarez’s phenomenal ability on a football pitch. There’s also no denying his catastrophic disciplinary issues either, which has raised questions over Barcelona’s decision to sign him this summer.

Nevertheless, the ardent Catalan supporter will tell you that the pros of signing the Uruguayan far outweigh the cons and a quick glance at his performances in the Premier League last season compels you to agree.

Suarez plundered 31 goals in 33 league appearances last season, comfortably claiming the Golden Boot alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and was widely regarded as one of the best attacking players in the world.

Now the prospect of Suarez joining forces with Lionel Messi is being greeted with equal measures of excitement and apprehension. Recent history dictates that the Argentine is the main man at Barcelona and regardless of the high profile recruits that simply doesn’t change.

Samuel Eto’o was the first casualty of the era of Messi dominance. The Cameroon international was accustomed to being the focal point of Barcelona’s attack but gradually found the little Argentine invading his space and eventually making it his own.

The striker grew frustrated with having to often drift into a wide area to find space to operate in. Thierry Henry was the main man at Arsenal but despite being one of the most accomplished goal scorers the game has ever seen, he too was shuttled out to the left wing in order to support Messi.

Meanwhile, Zlatan Ibrahimovic very publicly criticized Pep Guardiola for bowing down to Messi’s needs and sacrificing the Swede’s effectiveness as a result. Despite a fantastic start to his Barcelona career in his first few games, Ibrahimovic claimed it all collapsed very soon when his Argentine teammate demanded a central role.

More recently, there were whispers of a falling out between David Villa and Messi as well before the Spaniard left for Atletico Madrid last summer. There’s certainly sufficient precedent to argue that Suarez’s arrival could wind up failing in similar fashion.

Even if the Uruguayan adheres to the law of the land, which essentially states that Messi will rule with an iron fist, the concern is that he may be sacrificing his edge in the bargain. That seemed to be the case with Neymar when the Brazilian put his best foot forward after his transfer last year by openly acknowledging that he was there to ‘help’ Messi.

As a result, the Selecao star was unable to be the match-winner he was for Santos. Instead, his performances reflected his mindset as he was merely a part of the supporting cast in the Lionel Messi show.

However, Suarez is a different kind of superstar. He excels whether he is the focal point of his side’s attack or not. He has an incredible ability to adapt and accommodate while retaining his effectiveness.

While other forwards grew disgruntled with tracking back, closing down and working hard to create space while Messi enjoyed a free role, Suarez’s nature is such that all those things are a huge part of his game anyway.

He’s renowned for his amazing work rate and enjoys setting up chances for his teammates. In fact, with 87 chances created, he was bettered only by Samir Nasri and Eden Hazard (92 each) in the Premier League as a creative force. Meanwhile, he fell just one short of being the player with the most assists as Steven Gerard topped the list with 13.

Also, he was the one who created more clear-cut chances than anyone else. He notched up 22 big chances in the league, 9 more than anyone else. What should be taken into account with these statistics is that the Uruguayan accomplished all of this despite missing the opening five games through suspension.

His co-ordination with the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge proves his capacity as a team player. He was comfortable playing as a lone striker but also flourished when used in tandem with Sturridge or down either flank. Regardless of where he played, he always put in a shift and was a constant threat.

Just like Gareth Bale, Suarez is a special kind of superstar; one that works hard, adapts and will always find a way to be effective. From a purely footballing point of view, the 27 year old can only make things better for Barcelona’s attack.


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