‘[Suarez] is a great player and has had a great season, but in football, you have to have several great seasons’. These are the words of Karim Benzema that are surely going to grate on Liverpool fans. In fact, all football followers are going to sit up and take notice.
Really? Did Luis Suarez have just one great season in his footballing career? The Uruguay international is 27 years of age, and if he had just one “great” season, why is everyone talking about him? Why did Arsenal make a bid of over £40 million last summer? Why are Real Madrid, Benzema’s club and this season’s Champions League winners, reported to be keen on him?
It’s because Suarez has had more than one great season: he has been a consistent player for Liverpool over the past three-and-a-half seasons.
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Suarez’s progress is there for all to see. The 2011-12 season was an underwhelming one for the Reds in terms of Premier League success, but over the past two years under manager Brendan Rodgers, Suarez has clearly taken his game to a whole new level. The past campaign was Liverpool’s best in five years, and Suarez’s goal tally just mirrors that.
True, Suarez has won only the League Cup with Liverpool so far, but what about his success with Ajax? He won the KNVB Cup in 2010 and a year later clinched the Eredivisie. Suarez was also the Ajax Player of the Year in 2009 and 2010, and was named the best footballer in the Netherlands in 2009-10 – the season in which Ajax did not win the title. Then in the summer of 2010, he helped his Uruguay reach the semi-finals of the World Cup and a year later guided his country to the Copa America glory, claiming the tournament’s best player award in the process.
Compare his stats to that of Benzema, who won the Champions League with Real Madrid in 2013-14: 17 goals and nine assists in 35 league appearances. Suarez has been one of the more consistent strikers in the last few years and has averaged 21 domestic goals per season since joining Dutch giants Ajax in 2007. While you could argue that the Eredivisie is not at the same level as La Liga, you cannot deny that Suarez has continued his goal-scoring feat in the Premier League. In fact, he scored four goals and provided three assists in 12 league starts in the 2010-11 season – and he moved to Anfield only in January 2011.
Benzema has the talent and the tactical flexibility, and at Madrid he has also learned how to play a supportive role – Cristiano Ronaldo is the Spanish giants’ main goalscorer, not the 26-year-old. However, the France international has struggled to maintain consistency since his move to the Spanish giants from Lyon back in the summer of 2009. In his past five seasons, his goal tally in the league reads: 8, 15, 21, 11, 17.
Perhaps Benzema’s comments stem out of his apprehension that he could be offloaded this summer. He was signed in 2009 as part of a Galactico 2.0 project by Madrid president Florentino Perez to win the Champions League. It has taken five years for Los Blancos since then to conquer Europe, and perhaps it is time for the club to offload Benzema, who has been inconsistent and whose form has been patchy.