One of the highlights of Brendan Rodgers' tenure at Anfield has been overseeing the talent of Uruguayan striker from a great to one of the very best.
Currently in the conversation as a consensus top five player in world football, Luis Suarez has gone from exquisite goalscorer responsible for a goal or assist every 149 minutes he was on the field in the Premier League in his first full season at Liverpool, to one of the most feared on-pitch athletes in the current season and a front-runner for the player of the year due to his haul of 23 goals and 17 assists (one every 49 mins).
Considering the Uruguayan, 27, intended to leave Merseyside last summer, amid reports that Arsenal had made their interest official while Real Madrid were also speculated admirers, the man management used by boss Brendan Rodgers to refocus Suarez on the Anfield project has been spectacular.
Suarez, though, has not only been managed by Rodgers, though, who has utilised a number of formations and tactics in order to see the forward thrive, but also influential captain Steven Gerrard, a player whom Suarez told the April edition of Four Four Two magazine 'played a massive part in convincing me to stay.'
The 27-year-old added: 'He didn't talk about me, or through me, in the press, but in person. In those moments I forgot that he was 'world football great Gerrard', a Liverpool legend, but as a humble person who spoke to me with all his heart for hours. He said I was the best forward he'd ever played with, which given the amazing strikers that he's played with at Liverpool, was amazing for me to hear… I'll never forget that.'
Words have been backed up with actions, though, and while Suarez - in the past - felt aggrieved by the way he was treated by the British media, the wearing of the Liverpool armband could have been a turning point in his career.
'I'd never imagined myself as Liverpool skipper. After everything that had happened with me, to retain the support of the club, the coach and my team-mates showed me they were happy to forget and forgive. It proved that my commitment to the club and to my team-mates is genuine and that I'm giving the maximum. Everyone here lives to help the club. Being Liverpool captain is something that validates you and makes you feel appreciated because there have been some fantastic leaders here.'
The continued development of Suarez has also been a behind-the-scenes process at the club's training base in Melwood. The players work ethic is renowned, as is the club's desire to rein in his desire to always train, to work hard, so that they can combat cumulative fatigue throughout the season. Yet Ryland Morgans, Liverpool's head of fitness and conditioning and a sports scientist, has explained just what makes Suarez a supreme athlete - a strong muscular system, fast recovery rate and a man with a large aerobic capacity.
'Luis is a fantastic athlete,' commented Morgans on the club's official website. 'You never hear of him being injured - and he gets kicked from pillar to post, week in, week out. So the fact that he's always out on the pitch is a fantastic testament to him.
'Physically, he is fantastic,' he added. 'He's got a strong muscular system, which allows him to produce those explosive, repeated bouts of effort. He can recover quickly and do it again within a game and then from game to game. For Luis, it's about making sure that, because he loves to train and loves to be out on the grass, we modify and reduce the training load that he is exposed to.
'We do this by making sure that he gets an appropriate recovery from the match. So if we've had a strong game on a Saturday and we don't quite get our recovery right, then that accumulative fatigue will build up over the week and can be taken into the forthcoming match.
'So it's really about making sure that he can get that recovery right, because he's a fantastic athlete and has a large aerobic capacity, so he's able to continue to run for a 90-minute game.'
image: © Viking-