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Luis Suarez Must Be Judged According to New Role at Barcelona

The Boot Room

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Luis Suarez arrived at the Camp Nou floating on a swirl of controversy and forced apology following his biting of Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup. Liverpool, in many ways, were powerless to resist his desire to leave the club. Indeed, many suggested that Suarez’s latest crime was a step too far for the Reds and it was time to part ways with the divisive pantomime Uruguayan in order to protect the club’s reputation.

Either way, the Merseyside club, despite its own stature and the previous season’s miraculous attempt to reinstate itself at the top of the Premier League tree, seemed resigned to losing their most talented individual to a titan of European football. Barcelona came knocking and Liverpool were, due to the brilliance of the player, able to demand a huge sum for the striker.

It was one of the sport’s quietest, most ineluctable, yet high-profile pieces of business in the last decade. Liverpool, though little was said at the time and has been said since due to the sense of necessity that came with his sale, must feel gratitude to Suarez for his extraordinary displays during his time there. A sublime talent, he elevated the club almost single-handedly back to the summit of English football. Suarez won the Premier League Player of the Season award for 2013/14, managing to score 31 goals in just 33 games. Had he not forced Liverpool’s hand with another savage act in Brazil, there is little doubt Rodgers would have fought harder to keep hold of such an outstanding player.

Premier League Player of the Season for 2013/14, Suarez scored 31 goals.

 

Suarez was the talisman, the goalscorer and the tireless engine that kept the Liverpool attacking machine running at full pelt for 90 minutes in every match. The most influential player in Europe, according to a study by Bloomberg in May 2014. At Barcelona, things were bound to be different.

It is, of course, only natural that Suarez – and most players of his ilk – would have a greater influence in a team with fewer world class players. Their talent comes to the fore simply because it must. Their teammates rely on them to do most things, if not everything, in the offensive arena. Most importantly, they deliver.

There are few qualms over the height of his transfer fee and I am yet to hear an opinion contrary to the popular one that he is a truly wonderful player. However, played alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar at the Camp Nou, the Uruguayan’s role is not as central as it was at Anfield. Unfortunately, people may start to judge him for that.

Suarez has struggled to find form in front of goal since his arrival at Barcelona.

That his role is less significant in the context of the team and that people will judge him for such are two things that are out of his control. One thing that is firmly in his grasp is his work-rate, which has always been first class and ought to guarantee that he is a success at Barcelona. The measure of success, however, must be different to how he was evaluated at Liverpool since he will not be the primary goal threat, nor will he be the best player.

Barcelona have and will continue to reserve that position for Lionel Messi, whose talent needs no further elaboration. The priority given to Messi’s needs and desires on the pitch, however, is something to which Suarez will have to become accustomed. Everything revolves around Messi, and so Suarez will be obliged to do so as well.

Alexis Sanchez, whose talents have received a more-than-generous sprinkling of praise from the English media since his arrival at Arsenal, was deemed surplus to requirements at Barcelona. He didn’t score enough goals and his style, albeit tireless and tricky, was not considered beneficial enough to Messi’s game.

Suarez must accept being second fiddle to Lionel Messi.

Suarez, who is just as hard-working as Sanchez and a better finisher as well, will spend many games frustrated as far as goals are concerned. Hat-tricks will go to Messi, while Suarez will be expected to draw defenders away from the Argentine genius with smart, incessant running. Thus far, Suarez looks more than capable of doing that and is picking up the odd goal too. If the form of Barcelona’s three front men continues in this vein, just weeks after murmurs of a crisis under Luis Enrique’s charge, Suarez’s undoubted talent will be fully realised in Catalunya.

We just have to judge him as part of that seemingly unstoppable trio, not purely as the phenomenal individual he was at Liverpool.

The Boot Room is a football analysis website, bringing original and creative content to the fans of the English Football League.

Barcelona

Would Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele make Liverpool title contenders?

Jurgen Klopp has expressed his interest in the 20-year-old.

Josh Kerr

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Dembele
Photo: Getty Images

Liverpool should make a move for the La Liga ace Ousmane Dembele if the Barcelona winger becomes available this summer.

Manager Jurgen Klopp spoke of his fondness for the 20-year-old in a press conference yesterday and suggested he may be interested in signing the French international.

In quotes reported by the Daily Mail, Klopp admitted he was interested in the former Borrusia Dortmund forward by saying: “Is he on the market? Now I’m interested.”

Klopp’s interest may not actually lead to the club pursuing Dembele.

However, with a current squad losing bodies by the day following a large number of injuries to crucial players, Dembele would be a perfect addition for the Reds.

Some would argue he even may be capable of challenging Sadio Mane in the club’s starting eleven.

(Photo by Cristina Quicler/Getty Images)

Reports linking the club with Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann could spell concerns to the 20-year-old that he isn’t in Ernesto Valverde’s future plans.

The arrival of Dembele’s fellow countryman will make it significantly more difficult for him to keep his place alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Dembele endured a tough first season for the La Liga champions, which included only nine Primera Division starts due to a long-term hamstring injury.

Understandably, a club as competitive as Barcelona can’t afford to wait around for Dembele to fulfill his outstanding potential and, therefore, a move may make sense.

The world’s third most expensive player certainly has the talent to be one of the brightest stars in the game.

If Liverpool genuinely want him, they will have to fork out a lot more than the initial £96.8 million that Barca paid less than 12 months ago.

Following Barcelona’s drawn-out pursuit of former Reds talisman Philippe Coutinho, the tables could now turn.

This time, it would be Jurgen Klopp’s side testing the Catalan giants resolve in their attempts to pry away a once-prized possession for an astronomical fee.

Dembele was initially considered a panic buy after the departure of Neymar to Paris Saint Germain and the Catalan’s failure to sign Coutinho in the same window.

(Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

Having now captured Coutinho, and with the club being linked with Griezmann, both of whom can slot into Barcelona’s famous front three, it is difficult to see what Dembele’s role in the team will be next season.

At just 20 years of age, the Frenchman is too talented to sit on the bench and with Liverpool proving themselves to be among the best in Europe this season, he could be the perfect player for Klopp to break the bank, to ensure the Reds continuing improving under his control.

With Naby Keita set to join this summer, and considering Virgil van Dijk’s immediate impact, the addition of another top player, in the form of Dembele, could be the move that allows Klopp’s side to seriously contend for the Premier League next season.

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Is Barcelona’s Andre Gomes the man to take West Ham to the next level?

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Photo: Getty Images

This season has been a disappointing one for West Ham as they have once again failed to match the rising expectations of fans and owners after their move to the London Stadium, but there could be hope in the summer with rumours of a sensation signing from Spain.

Barcelona midfielder Andre Gomes is believed to be a target, according to the Mirror, as he looks for a fresh start after a disappointing two years at the Camp Nou.

The former Benfica and Valencia man has struggled to adapt since joining the La Liga leaders and has only been a bit part player this season, with the Hammers ready to make a move to bring him to London.

(Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

There is no doubting that such a signing would be a coup given the quality of Gomes that he so regularly displayed before moving to Catalonia and he could benefit from moving to a club content with fighting for Europe, rather than titles.

The Portugal international relished his role as a leader in attack and the freedom that came with it in the past, so much so that it earned him his big-money move, and a deal taking him to West Ham could see him return to such a role.

David Moyes’ side have been sorely lacking creativity, particularly with Manuel Lanzini out injured and struggling for consistent form, and Gomes could be the man to help lead a charge back up the table next season after a disastrous 2017/18.

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Chelsea 1-1 Barcelona: Three talking points from Stamford Bridge

Rob Meech brings us three talking points as Chelsea held La Liga leaders Barcelona to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.

Rob Meech

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Photo: Reuters

Lionel Messi finally broke his goalscoring duck against Chelsea to give Barcelona the edge after the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Messi had failed to score in eight previous attempts against the Blues, but he was not to be denied on this occasion as he cancelled out Willian’s 62nd-minute opener.

A Chelsea clean sheet would have been a massive boost ahead of a daunting trip to the Camp Nou next month.

However, Messi’s equaliser 15 minutes from time means Antonio Conte’s men face an uphill battle to qualify for the quarter-finals of Europe’s showpiece competition.

Here are three talking points from Stamford Bridge…

Conte’s tactical approach so nearly pays dividends

But for the fatal error that led to Messi’s leveller, Chelsea would be heading to Catalonia in three weeks’ time with a one-goal lead to protect.

That they came so close to victory is testament to Conte’s tactical nous, which stifled Barcelona while also allowing the home side to flourish.

As expected, the visitors dominated the ball throughout the encounter. However, they created precious few opportunities as Chelsea’s back line held firm.

Conte had resisted the temptation to start with an out-and-out striker, with Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud both named on the bench.

The fluid movement of Pedro, Eden Hazard and Willian caused more problems than Barcelona have been used to this season and the Blues’ second-half goal was a deserved one.

Heading into the second leg, Conte will need to devise another masterplan if Chelsea are to proceed to the last eight.

Third time lucky for impressive Willian

The tricky Brazilian has by no means been a regular for Chelsea this season.

But he was given the nod against Barcelona in a three-man attack that featured Hazard as a false number nine.

It’s a system Conte has favoured recently, but although it failed to get the best out of Hazard, the same could not be said about Willian.

He was Chelsea’s chief threat and, on another night, could have walked off with the match ball.

Willian twice hit the post in the first-half, showing great skill on each occasion to create space and leave Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen with no chance.

Despite his misfortune, Willian was unbowed and he broke the deadlock with a pinpoint finish that raised the roof at Stamford Bridge.

It was a fitting reward for a top-class performance that highlighted his natural ability.

Surely he can’t be far away from cementing a regular spot in Conte’s starting XI?

Messi ends Chelsea goal drought to have decisive say

It is not often that British football fans get to see the little magician at such close quarters, so each time he arrives on these shores it is to be cherished.

Chelsea had a game-plan to nullify his influence and in the first half this worked superbly.

Although there were the usual sublime touches that we have come to expect, Messi was largely shackled by a solid rearguard display from Chelsea’s three-man central defence.

However, it only takes a side to switch off for a moment for the Argentinian to flex his muscles.

A misplaced pass from Andreas Christensen was intercepted by Andres Iniesta, whose pull back enabled Messi to slide the ball past Thibaut Courtois.

Once the ball had arrived to him in the box, there was no doubting where it would nestle.

Messi’s exuberant celebrations underlined the importance of his equaliser in the context of the tie.

It could be the decisive moment.

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