The rise and rise of Luis Suarez

What better time to review the career of controversial Uruguayan stiker Luis Suarez than before he begins his time at the Catalan pass masters Barcelona. The 27 year old will link up with Neymar & one Lionel Messi in one of the most mouth watering front lines in world football. By having a look at his past performance, maybe we can see why Barcelona paid €95m euros for him.

2006/7: Groningen
GPG: 0.39 (goals per game)
APG: 0.02 (assists per game)
Hailing from the small town of Salto in Uruguay (population 110,000), at age 11, Suarez moved 500km to FC Nacional in Montevido.  He came through the youth teams there & in his first full season as a professional footballer, Suarez had a GPG ratio of 0.29. This brought him to the attention of some Dutch scouts who duly snapped him up for €800k for Groningen.
Despite the step up in class to the Eredivisie, Suarez managed to increase his GPG ratio by 34% in his first season. Impressive. Especially when teammates testified that he took a while to learn the Dutch language. He was an improving goalscorer. However, he only registered 1 assist in 38 games (0.02 APG).

2007/8: Ajax
GPG: 0.51
APG: 0.0
On the back of his goal scoring exploits, Ajax had a €3.5m bid rejected. Suarez went to the Dutch FA to force the move through but the appeal was thrown out. With a renewed offer of €7.5, Ajax got their man. Groningen get 10.6 times what they paid for him.   He rewarded their confidence with 28 goals in 51 games. Ajax was yet another up in quality but this didn’t stop his GPG ratio increasing by 30% on the previous year. As per the previous season, he didn’t really set up his teammates up for goals with a poor APG ratio.

GPG: 0.54
APG: 0.3
In his second season at Ajax his GPG increases again, +5% on the previous season. He also dramatically increases his number of assists, developing into  a more rounded player. Maybe it was the partnership he formed with Klaas Van Huntelaar. He is named Ajax player of the season. The only drawback is Van Basten isn’t happy with his disciplinary record of 6 yellows & 1 red. Said Van Basten at the time: “Suárez is of incredible importance to us. He’s in the middle of almost everything that happens. But he’s not doing us favours by getting booked all the time. If he goes on, he’ll be suspended every odd game. We’re going to have a talk with him and I won’t rule out fining him.”

GPG: 0.87
APG: 0.28
New manager Martin Jol makes Suarez captain at the start of the 09/10 season. His scoring goes off the charts! He nets an astonishing 55 times in 63 appearances,an incredible 0.87 GPG. His overall teamwork improves too as he sets up 18 goals in the 63 games (0.28 per game). This is his most prolific season to date. Almost a goal a game & 1 assist in every 3. He’s winning matches on his own.

Ajax GPG: 0.27
Ajax APG: 0.28
Liverpool GPG: 0.41
Liverpool APG: 0.27
We have to split his stats in two here as he transfers club mid season.  For the first half of the season, his GPG declines to 0.27. This is 69% down on the previous full season. Obviously this is not complete as he only plays a part of the Dutch season. In November 2010, Suarez gets banned for 7 games for biting Otman Bakal. It would seem reasonable to conclude that his disciplinary issues affect his GPG. During his suspension, he is sold for €26.5m to premier league club Liverpool. Ajax make nearly 3 times what they bought him for.
In his first half season at Liverpool, his GPG is 0.41,  down 53% on 09/10. With his APG remaining virtually static, it would seem he fitted in perfectly as a team player but took some time to become as prolific as at Holland. The step up in class in leagues would account for this.

GPG: 0.51
APG: 0.21
During his first full season in England (11/12), he scores 24 times in 47 games (0.51 GPG). A slight improvement but not at his 09/10 peak yet. His assists came in at 0.21 PG. This is his lowest in 4 seasons. However, it is interesting to note that It’s the season his game seems to stagnate. This may have something to do with 8 match ban handed out in Nov 2012 for racism. As with his last season at Ajax, the big moments of controversy seem to have a big impact on his performance.


In new manager Brendan Rodgers first season (12/13), his GPG ratio increases to 0.64. He’s improving again. Strangely his assists take a huge dip to 0.8 PG. More intent on scoring. In April he bites ivanovic. Tries to go to arsenal. His key passes for game ratio is 2.8 this season so although his overall stats dropped somewhat he was still creating plenty of opportunity for the team. His average acrosshis career is 1.8 key passes per game so (for all stats available) so this season was +55% on his career average.



In his last season at Liverpool (13/14), Suarez has a GPG ratio of 0.78. He also APG of 0.36. This is his highest ever APG. This is his best season overall. This is despite him missing the1st 8 games of the season due to another disciplinary ban. He had his best ever season for key passes per game at 2.8 too. So although not all of these led to goals, he was constantly creatign chances for his teammates.


Starting the season 2 months late isnt ideal. Based on his previous transfer, we can expect that it will take time


About Mick Gilbride

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