For just £5.5 million, Barcelona sold Luis Suarez to Atletico Madrid. At the time of writing, this appears to have been a misjudgement on the Catalan club’s part. Although he’s no longer in the prime of his career, he’s still capable of being a regular top-flight goalscorer, and he’s proving that at the Wanda Metropolitano. After being told he wasn’t needed under Ronald Koeman, the Uruguayan sought pastures new, and he hasn’t looked back since transferring to Diego Simeone’s team. So, let’s analyse how the 34-year-old has reinvented himself at Atletico Madrid.
Revitalised Under Simeone
In his first 17 La Liga appearances for Atletico, Suarez found the net on 16 occasions and chipped in with two assists. Fascinatingly, this is the same goal tally that he managed during his final season with Barcelona; although he had been suspended for the opening eight games of the 19/20 campaign. Thus far, the combination of Simeone and Suarez has been a match made in heaven. According to the Daily Mail, following their initial phone conversations prior to a transfer, the Argentine manager appreciated the 34-year-old’s desire and energy. Since then, he has shown the same qualities on the field as Atletico seek to clinch their 11th La Liga title in 2022/21.
Suarez has also been full of praise for his manager since moving to the Wanda Metropolitano. As per Football Espana, the Uruguayan stated that players are convinced and motivated by Simeone’s desire and positivity. Thus far, this new-found drive in the 34-year-old has been evident during matches. Against Eibar, Getafe, and Real Sociedad, Suarez netted match-winning goals, which saw Los Colchoneros open up an eight-point lead over Barca after just 20 games.
Although Koeman admits that Barcelona don’t regret letting Suarez leave for a rival club, it’s tough to believe him. After 21 top-flight matches, the Catalan club have scored 44 goals, 13 of which came from Messi. Crucially, Antoine Griezmann, who left Atletico for Barca in 2019, has just six league goals to his name in 20 appearances. Despite what Koeman says, Suarez is showing Barcelona what they’re missing this season, and his prolific form could make the difference regarding the 2020/21 title race.
The Best of His Generation?
Suarez’s revival has sparked something of a debate regarding the best out-and-out striker of the modern era. Of course, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi lead the way from a goalscoring standpoint, but they’ve often played in numerous positions, including down the flanks. Although Suarez has played in non-central roles, he’s predominantly a leading striker. In 636 matches, the Uruguayan scored 419 career goals and provided 237 assists, according to Transfermarkt. By comparison, Robert Lewandowski, who won the Best FIFA Men’s Player award in 2020, has 440 goals in 617 appearances and created a further 127.
In the eyes of many, the debate regarding the decade’s best striker revolves around Suarez and Lewandowski. Of course, there are arguments for Edinson Cavani, Sergio Aguero, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but they’ve each failed to win the UEFA Champions League. In relation to Cavani, Suarez is Uruguay’s leading goalscorer with 63 goals, which showcases his superiority compared to his fellow countryman.
Although Lewandowski’s a worthy candidate, it’s hard to argue that Suarez isn’t the best striker of his generation. Between 2009 and 2019, the 34-year-old was the only player aside from Messi and Ronaldo to win the European Golden Shoe, clinching the award in 2013/14 and 2015/16. Not only that, unlike the Polish striker, he’s also shown that he can deliver in the English Premier League, which one of the most competitive divisions in world football.
In 2013/14 while at Liverpool, Suarez equalled the Premier League’s record for the most goals in a 38-game season, levelling Ronaldo’s total of 31 from 2007/08. It speaks volumes about the significance of this achievement that many UK bookmakers now host markets relating to the league’s top scorer, with the likes of Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah longing to surpass the existing record. At trusted promotion-offering platforms, Premier League football dominates the UK betting industry, and that’s evident from the available opportunities. Along with English-orientated accumulators and in-play features, operators like 888sport also cover La Liga, where Suarez’s Atletico are the favourites to win the league.
One of Football’s Strangest Transfer Decisions
Opting to move on a 33-year-old forward who was theoretically past his prime years wasn’t a poor decision, certainly not from a business standpoint. However, letting him go to a rival leaves a lot to be desired. In modern football, few transfers have been as baffling, and Barcelona may now be ruing their earlier stance regarding Suarez’s future.