Diminutive yet supremely-skilled Argentine, Messi, 26, is Barcelona's club record goalscorer with 325 goals struck in 391 games in all competitions. He is a trophy-magnet having won La Liga six times, the Champions League thrice as well as a hall-full of individual prizes.
Ronaldo, like Messi, has secured himself legendary fame at his club and his goals to games ratio is without parallel in the modern game. While Messi is an attacking artist with the ball at his feet, Ronaldo is powerful, strong and majestic.
Together they are the consensus top two players on the planet… and have been for quite some time.
In England, there is a pundit inclination to put the pair of them on an untouchable pedestal. Gareth Bale's triple-crowning player-of-the-year season almost saw him challenge that sentiment, but his struggles to recreate his Tottenham Hotspur form inside the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu has seen his stock drop in the eyes of those who invested him in.
In Bale, the holding may have been mis-placed as, on current form, the Premier League has it's own Leo, has it's own Cristiano… and he's not from a London nor a Manchester club, but Liverpool and here are five reasons why:
- Luis Suarez is the first player to score three in one Premier League game this season
- His hat-trick against West Brom was his fourth in England, in what was his 81st Liverpool appearance
- Suarez's hat-trick per games ratio is 1:20 and is the best out of all the 46 players who have ever scored more than one Premier League treble
- Suarez's strike rate is comparable to the best on the planet… he has scored seven goals in his last five appearances at Anfield
- In the current Premier League season, Suarez has scored six and provided one assist
In terms of attributes, Messi, Ronaldo and Suarez are different kinds of attacker. Messi has agility, a swift turn of pace and a wizard's ability to elude tackles. Ronaldo is powerfully built, well-balanced and equally adept whether he is striking with either peg or his head. Suarez, like Ronaldo, has a positional versatility. However, unlike the Portuguese who can play anywhere across the front-line, Suarez is better suited as either a lone man or second striker. He has a playground enthusiasm for the ball, a working class work-rate and has great speed.
What they all have in common, though, is a guaranteed return of goals. Thus far, Messi has scored eight goals in eight La Liga outings. Ronaldo has eight from ten appearances in the Spanish division while Suarez has six from four.
Suarez is the most effective attacker in the Premier League right now, there can be no question. He has completed 82% of his passes, has a shooting accuracy of 60% as 12 of his 20 shots hit the target, he has created nine chances, provided one assist and scored six in 359 minutes of football. That's an efficiency rate (goals + assists / minutes played) of one goal/assist per 52 minutes, a chance created every 39 minutes and a shot every 17 minutes.
Statistically this season, Suarez has to be mentioned in the same breath as Messi and Ronaldo on current form and, if the Uruguayan ace keeps up these performances throughout the season, he deserves to stay there.
image: © ruairaigh