Luis Suarez' will to win makes him Liverpool FC star
BY any sort of standards, Luis Suarez’s goalscoring exploits are enough to raise an approving eyebrow.
With Fernando Torres having effectively ploughed a lone furrow up front for Liverpool in recent years, a second proven marksman has been priority number one at Anfield for some time.
Dirk Kuyt, once a barnstorming centre forward, has been moulded into a right midfielder, while the young David Ngog remains in the early stages of his career.
The clamour to find a forward to share the workload burdened onto Torres, following the Robbie Keane debacle, grew incessantly through the Benitez, Hodgson and now Dalglish era.
Surveying the statistics which accompany the colourful Suarez, the Reds seem to have got a man who ticks all the boxes.
The Uruguyan bagged 10 goals in 29 games in his first season with Dutch side Groningen during the 2006 season.
But it was his move to Eredivisie giants Ajax when the South American’s career really took off, culminating in a staggering return of 35 goals in 33 league games last year.
That form was translated to the international stage with 16 goals in 38 appearances for his beloved Uruguay.
But aside from the 24-year-old’s ability to find the back of the net with noteworthy regularity, there is another side to his football character that marks him out above the rest.
It is perhaps a darker and unsavoury trait at times, but for those who have worked with Suarez, it is the quality that underlines his will to win.
In November, 2010, the striker received a seven-match ban for biting PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal on the shoulder in a league match.
That came on the back of the high-profile handball incident in last summer’s World Cup in South Africa.
The left-footer incurred the wrath of football purists when he punched away a goalbound header in the last seconds of Uruguay’s quarter-final clash against Ghana.
It cruelly denied the Africans victory, and with Asamoah Gyan missing the resulting penalty, and the South Americans emerging victorious from the shoot-out, it provoked furious lambasting headlines the world over.
Suarez’s instinctive comment after the game that “the hand of God now belongs to me” and that “I made the save of the tournament” merely added fuel to the fire.
This will to succeed against all odds, however, is what Ajax managing director Rik van den Boog believes is why Liverpool have backed a winner.
“Luis is going to bring the place (Anfield) alive because he is a streetfighter,” he said.
“He arrived here with a decent reputation but he was not a big player then. In the dressing room he soon stood up and became a leader.
“That’s why he was special.”
Suarez leaves Amsterdam with many admirers, but most of all, it is his prolific hit rate which the Dutch followers will miss the most.
Van den Boog added: “We’ll remember him for his incredible amount of goals and what he has done for the club.
“Our fans were crazy about him.’’
Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group will be smarting at having to raise their bid to a very weighty £22.8m for Suarez.
But that is the nature of January transfer windows when selling clubs hold all the cards and valuations are heightened in the knowledge that buying teams are determined to bring in recruits to remedy ailing campaigns.
In the space of a week, the Reds’ bid to Ajax had doubled from £12.75m – which was almost witheringly dismissed by the Dutch, – to the substantial figure of 25m Euros.
Anfield bosses’ willingness to land Suarez was no doubt accelerated by events back on Merseyside as Fernando Torres handed in his own transfer request.
Either way, the South American will now stand as either the Spaniard’s partner in crime, or more likely now, his replacement.
Ajax manager Frank De Boer conceded: “I can understand Luis wanting to go to Liverpool.
“It’s a beautiful club, but then it has to be satisfying for both parties."
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