The perennial argument over best player in the world has revolved around Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in recent years. I feel it’s time to give serious consideration (and respect) to Luis Suarez in this conversation, based on what he has accomplished in this year’s league campaign.
These arguments are obviously difficult because at some point statistics aren’t necessarily enough to separate one player from another. However, this difficulty is also what’s great about these discussions since it leaves the rest to debate, which is something I hope to spark a little bit of with my personal opinion on the subject.
Here’s how Suarez’s EPL statistics stack up against the numbers put up by Ronaldo and Messi in La Liga this season:
Let’s focus in on comparing Suarez to the reigning Ballon d’Or as the benchmark since Messi isn’t having his typical year:
Statistical examination of league match numbers shows that Suarez has the advantage head-to-head. While Suarez has appeared in one more games than Ronaldo, he has taken 41 fewer shots than Ronaldo to score one more goal. Suarez leads not only his team, but also his league in both goals AND assists. Finally, as shown in the last column, Suarez has contributed on a higher percentage of Liverpool’s total goals this season than Ronaldo has for Real.
Coupled with the statistics, here are my personal arguments for why Suarez is the best in the world currently:
He is more valuable to his team than any other player in the world is to theirs. Where would Liverpool be without Suarez? I realize they started strongly without him, but I defy anyone to argue they would be title contenders right now without him all year. Real Madrid without Ronaldo is still a top 3 side in La Liga.
Suarez makes everyone around him better. This is not to say that Ronaldo does not, but Suarez’s game tends to involve his teammates more while Ronaldo can be more of a one man show. The development of players like Raheem Sterling, Phillipe Coutinho, and Daniel Sturridge this season must certainly be accredited in part to the presence of Suarez.
Suarez is no less technically capable than Ronaldo. Ronaldo is most praised for his technical abilities, but Suarez in his own right has great footwork, free kick ability, and I would argue a better finishing touch.
These are just a couple of talking points that I believe have merit. I know the Ronaldo fanatics out there may take a deal of issue with them (or at least I hope so), as well as Messi fans for me leaving him out of the discussion. I encourage anyone to voice their opinion to get the conversation going, as I feel this is a worthwhile topic.