So it’s finally official, Luis Suarez has left the Premier League and will join Barcelona in a deal worth £75m. Suarez of course is under a 4 month ban handed down to him by FIFA after he bit the shoulder of Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini in their World Cup clash. His appeal against this was rejected yesterday meaning other than the official photo (above), we won’t be seeing Luis in a Barca shirt till November! When he does turn out for the Catalan club, how will it all work?
The purchase of Suarez prompted the sale of Alexis Sanchez to Arsenal, Alexis of course is a wide man through and through with Lionel Messi always playing the central role. This would lead many to believe that Suarez will be employed on the flanks, something not totally alien to him.
Suarez though, won PFA and Football Writers’ Player of the Year awards and was the Premier League top goalscorer with 31, this was playing up front alongside Daniel Sturridge. The SAS partnership worked perfectly, both unselfish, both feed by talent behind them, both prolific! However, I can’t see this being the case in Spain.
Leo is always the central figure, everything that goes forwards runs through Messi and is created for Messi. He is a global superstar and in many peoples’ eyes could become the greatest ever if he wins a World Cup on Sunday night. Therefore Luis Suarez will have to learn, like Neymar did, that he is there for the benefit of the team, ergo, the benefit of Lionel Messi. Neymar said upon his arrival in Barcelona, “My relationship with Messi is wonderful, he’s a great person, he’s a leader, the best player in the world, and I am here to help”. This humility, will maybe be expected from Luis Suarez too.
Luis Enrique is the new man at the helm for Barça, he’s a man well tied to the club and the philosophy of it. Unlike the outgoing Tata Martino he will toe the clubs line and that is following in the footsteps of the great Pep Guardiola and the late Tito Vilanova. This means the most likely line up with be the 4-3-3 as we are familiar with. The front 3 though will certainly be interchangeable, Messi as false 9 is able to roam freely, Neymar playing on the left is allowed to cut inside and Suarez, probably on the right, will also be given free reign to cut side or drop deep to collect the ball. This spells good signs for Barça who now also have a ‘Plan B’ option of sticking Suarez up front centrally, something Cesc Fabregas was at times told to do (albeit as False 9) if Messi was missing.
What it means for Barcelona is that the front 3 of Neymar, Messi and Suarez is probably the strongest front 3 in their recent history, arguably even more talented than Messi, Eto’o and Henry were in 2009 when they scored 100 goals between them. The job of rebuilding the squad still isn’t done yet though, despite the transfers of Ivan Rakitic, the Croat from Sevilla, Marc Andre ter Stegen and Claudio Bravo – the new goalkeepers and some promotions from the B side. The Catalans lack a quality centre half and this hurt them at points last season, expect to see more money spent before the window is out and a potential transfer ban from FIFA kicks in.
Currently, come November they will be lining up with ter Stegen or Bravo in between the sticks, a back four of Alves, Pique, the new CB and Alba, a midfield trio the vital Sergio Busquets, Iniesta and Rakitic and then a front 3 of Neymar, Messi and Suarez… Delicious! The fight between Real Madrid, Atleti and Barça for La Liga will be an absolutely incredible spectacle!
For our man Luis Suarez… He will have to make sure he doesn’t become like Zlatan Ibrahimovic who had a torrid time at the Nou Camp by refusing to acknowledge he was less than Messi. I don’t see that being a problem because as the story goes from Kenny Dalglish’s days at Liverpool managing Suarez: He once told him he would be out left for a cup game and Suarez, still learning English, took this to mean he was out on the left and agreed. Kenny had to explain he was actually not playing the match but this showed the players desperation to be a part of the starting XI, even if he was thrust out wide. He is also hungry for football, with him cooped up to November he will back and he will be hungrier (excuse the pun) than ever for goals!
I hope he succeeds and scores plenty more goals like these, what happens in November though, is a long way off!
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By Gareth Thomas | July 11th, 2014