Cristiano Ronaldo was awarded the Ballon d’Or last night to break the Lionel Messi monopoly.
But regardless of the debate over whether he or Franck Ribery should have been crowned the winner, there is another footballer who maybe, just maybe, was watching last night’s ceremony thinking, “Next year, that’s mine.”
When the final whistle blew to end Liverpool’s 5-3 victory over Stoke City on Sunday, I have to admit to double-taking when the commentator confirmed how many goals Suarez had already.
“That’s 22 league goals for the season,” he said. And as much as I knew the Uruguayan was on fire, somehow, hearing his total in that instant bamboozled me.
Here was a statistic apparently reserved for La Liga these days – a single man tearing an entire league apart.
Not since Ronaldo was at Old Trafford has the Premier League had a player so far above his every competitor; because Suarez is certainly that, and he has been for some time.
Not only has he scored 22 goals in just 16 Premier League matches, but he also has 11 assists.
Compare that to Ronaldo who has 20 in 18 league games (with six assists) plus a further nine in the Champions League.
And Lionel Messi, whose recent injury absence must be taken into account, who has eight in 12 in La Liga (plus four assists) and six in three in Europe.
For now, Ronaldo’s exploits in the Champions League keep him ahead of Suarez, which is surely one of the factors why Suarez is so desperate to finish in the top four and take his rightful place among Europe’s elite players.
The form the ex-Ajax man is currently in means he could beat Ronaldo’s league total this season by some distance. And if in so doing he fires Liverpool back into Europe, there is no reason why this time next year he cannot be clutching a Ballon d’Or of his own.
Liverpool already possess one of the world’s finest. Now if only he can join the rest at the top table of European competition, he could usurp them all.
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