Our definitive countdown of the best players of 2010-11 continues with the Liverpool ace, whose impressive performances helped Uruguay to Copa America glory
Although Luis Suarez was one of the most prolific goalscorers around in 2009-10 with 35 goals in 33 Eredivisie appearances, he didn’t really catch the attention of a big audience until the 2010 World Cup. Nevertheless, only few football followers didn’t know of the existence of the Uruguay international after his controversial handball against Ghana and his three goals throughout the tournament.
There was also a downside to Suarez’s success in South Africa as he didn’t have much time to recover from his efforts ahead of the 2010-11 campaign. The attacker didn’t complain though and started the season in style with a goal in Ajax's Champions League qualifier against PAOK. However, he made the headlines for all the wrong reasons in the Johan Cruyff Schaal loss versus Twente days later as he was dismissed in the 42nd minute.
|"He’s a midfielders dream, as soon as you look up he gives great movement, he gives you an option all the time."
- Steven Gerrard
Suarez consequently missed the Eredivisie’s opening weekend, but did impress in the Champions League as he helped Ajax to the group stage with another goal against PAOK and one versus Dynamo Kiev. The former Groningen star appeared to be back at his best one month into the season when he scored six goals in three games between August 21 and September 11.
|MOMENT OF THE SEASON
| COPA AMERICA:
URUGUAY 3-0 PARAGUAY
|After helping Uruguay to the final of the Copa America by netting a brace in the semi-final against Peru, Suarez capped a superb Copa America by leading his country the way in the final against Paraguay as he opened the scoring after only 12 minutes.
The Champions League match against AC Milan three weeks later turned out to be his last match for Ajax as Liverpool decided to splash the cash on Suarez in the January transfer window to lure him to the Premier League.
Suarez didn’t waste any time to make an impact at his new club and scored on his debut against Stoke City to immediately win over the fans. The undisputed highlight of his Liverpool career so far came about one month later though as the 24-year-old was involved in all of his club’s three goals in the 3-1 win over rivals Manchester United.
The attacker continued to impress in the months after his arrival at Anfield and he propelled Liverpool back in the race for European football with a string of fine performances under new manager Kenny Dalglish. His goals against Sunderland, Newcastle United and Fulham eventually turned out to be insufficient to help the Reds to a top-five finish though as they lost their crucial final home match against Tottenham Hotspur.
|"The Liverpool ace will continue to terrorise defences with his pace, trickery, determination and lethal finishing as Suarez has all the necessary attributes to become one of the Premier League’s absolute star"|
The best had yet to come for Suarez after the end of the Premier League campaign as the climax of his season came at the Copa America in Argentina. The hosts and Brazil were by many seen as the sky-high favourites at the South American championships, but Uruguay eventually proved to be the strongest, largely thanks to the Liverpool ace’s contributions.
Suarez netted once in the group stage, then converted his spot-kick in the penalty series in the quarter-final against Argentina before single-handedly helping Uruguay to the final with a brace against Peru in the semi-final. Tipped as the man to watch, the forward didn’t disappoint in the final as he gifted his side the lead early on and went on to cause the Paraguay defence all kinds of trouble in the remainder of the game as he set up Diego Forlan for the 3-0 in the dying seconds of the game. Unsurprisingly, the former Nacional starlet was voted Player of the Tournament as a reward for his outstanding displays.
Liverpool intend to give Suarez all the time he needs to get back to full match fitness after the Copa America and after a well deserved rest ahead of the 2011-12 campaign, the forward will continue to terrorise defences with his pace, trickery, determination and lethal finishing. There can be no doubt that Suarez has all the necessary attributes to become one of the Premier League’s absolute star players in his first full season in England.