Since Neymar’s world-record £200m move to Paris Saint – Germain in the summer, with only three La Liga goals this season, Luis Suarez has been struggling to find form, with his last goal coming against Atletico Madrid in a 1-1 draw at the Wanda Metropolitano on October 14th, over a month ago.
Before Neymar’s departure, Suarez was the best No9 in the world ever since he moved from Liverpool to the Nou Camp. However, the Uruguayan has been finding it difficult to match the significantly high standards he has produced to date in his career at Liverpool and Barcelona.
Alongside Lionel Messi, Suarez and Neymar formed the famous ‘MSN’ attack, which scored an amazing 364 goals and won nine trophies in their three years together at the club.
The Brazilian’s departure broke this trio and his replacement, club – record signing signing Ousmane Dembele, ruptured his tendon in just his third appearance for Barca, being ruled out for three-and-a-half months.
Suarez’s lack of form has put pressure on Messi to lead Barca’s title charge, with them currently sitting top by four points.
Messi is an extraordinarily talented player, and seems to be up for the challenge of almost single-handedly taking Barca to the summit of Spanish and European football, however regardless of however superhuman the football ability of the Argentinian may be, he still needs the rest of the forward line to be firing on all cylinders for the Catalonians to retain the La Liga title in a long season, in which they will also be competing in and hoping to win the Champions League and Copa Del Rey.
Suarez has claimed that he now often drifts out to the left-hand side which used to be occupied by Neymar because he can “see there’s no one there”.
Barca’s width used to come from wingers, especially down the left-hand side with the immense quality of Neymar, who would time and again create chances for target man Suarez. However, since the Brazil superstar left for PSG, this width is instead now coming from the full-backs, which means that Suarez has less time and space in the box because defenders close him down quicker due to being tight in the box.
Undoubtedly, any side in the world would suffer damaging consequences after the loss of a player with Neymar’s ability, however it appears that the Brazilian’s departure has also affected Suarez emotionally.
Whilst speaking to Sport, Suarez said: “We miss Ney a lot on the pitch, but more off it, because he was special. He’s said it. We had a lot of fun. He transmits happiness and joy all of the time. He was important for us. He’s playing for another team now but I don’t hold it against him, the opposite. I tried to convince him to stay because I think here’s the best place for him, but it’s a decision he had to take.”
Suarez further stated: “Messi and I tried to do what would benefit the team. But we never said ‘Don’t go because you won’t be happy. We said we didn’t want him to go, but that he was free to do what he wanted. Because of the friendship we have, it was painful that he left.”
Since his departure, Neymar has scored 11 goals and got 7 assists in 12 appearances for PSG, forming a similarly formidable partnership with Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani.
There has been reports that Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde is eyeing Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann as a replacement for Suarez in the summer.
We do not know the extent of the truth in this, and in this modern era of football, players and managers are instantly put under pressure after a small rough patch, and most of the time this pressure is unjustified.
However, there is a famous cliche ‘form is temporary, class is permanent’. On his day, Suarez is arguably the best striker in the world and he has already shown his quality to the world, and such dry patches in goals can be the norm for all great strikers at some point during their careers.
Suarez’s form has dipped this season following Neymar’s departure, however a striker with such quality should be allowed time to rediscover his devastating goalscoring form without too much pressure being heaped on the Uruguayan.
Written by Sina Latif
Follow Sina on Twitter @_sina93
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