"Luis Suarez is a fantastic player - he scores extraordinary goals," said Frenchman Mamadou Sakho, of his Liverpool team-mate, a striker so in-form that he was responsible for 43 goals in Premier League competition this past season (31 goals and 12 assists).
Sakho, who attempted 27 tackles, 27 interceptions and, an extraordinary 136 clearances from 17 starts, compared Suarez to Paris Saint-Germain superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Goal.com recently: "These are two phenomena of football, who are incredibly effective. They have different characters, are technical leaders on the field… they always take their team to the next level."
Mentioning Suarez in the same breath as Ibrahimovic shows just how much the Uruguayan has developed under the tutelage of Reds manager Brendan Rodgers, however, does that do him a dis-service? Has he actually progressed past the "phenomenal" level of Zlatan and into the truly elite level usually only reserved by twice-in-a-generation players like Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid and Lionel Messi of Barcelona?
|Club||Goal||Assist||Mins/ Shot||Mins/ Dribble||Mins/ Chance||Pass Acc||Total Pass||App||Min|
True, Suarez and Ibrahimovic are comparable in terms of their individualistic personalities - Suarez, for instance, has been described as a sewer rat (meant in a good way), before, while Ibrahimovic portrays himself as a renegade from the streets of Sweden in his fantastic biography; I Am Zlatan.
The statistics from the data table above demonstrate, though, that they are indeed separable.
Zlatan sees more touches on the football, attempts more passes and has a marginally higher accuracy in the pass, yet it is Suarez who does more useful things with the football whilst he has it. He attempts a dribble once every 12.5 minutes he is on the field (compared to Ibrahimovic's return of one per 110 minutes), he creates a chance every 34 minutes, attempts a shot every 16 minutes and has scored or assisted a goal every 68 minutes.
Ibrahomivic, meanwhile, has an attacking efficiency of a goal or assist returned every 75 minutes.