Is Luis Suarez right to be surprised by Ballon d’Or snub?
Luis Suarez (40/1 with Coral to be Champions League top scorer) may not be everyone’s favourite footballer, but the Uruguay international certainly made his mark on both the Premier League and World Cup last season.
The fearsome forward, now at Barcelona after the Catalan club forked out a reported £65m fee to pair him with fellow superstars Lionel Messi and Neymar, did, however, notably miss out on a Ballon d’Or nomination.
Addressing the issue recently, Suarez said: “Everyone brings it to attention, as Gerard Pique said, and what he told me is that they voted me as the best player in the most difficult league in the world, or one of the most difficult.
“I was also the highest goalscorer of all of the European leagues. But I prefer to keep quiet before saying things because every time that I speak there could be a problem.”
Even former Liverpool clubmate Steven Gerrard has appeared to question the “politics” behind the decision. The former England skipper stated: “I can’t believe it but that’s politics in football isn’t it? He…was top scorer…so you tell me how he’s not on the Ballon D’Or list?”
Suarez did almost propel the Reds to their first Premier League win in 24 years last term, scoring an incredible 31 goals and contributing 24 assists in all competitions. The South American striker’s stats speak for themselves, but the extent of Suarez’s influence on Brendan Rodgers’ Reds has only been truly evident by what they have lacked since he departed.
The 27-year-old was crowned Premier League Player of the Year last campaign, so his subsequent omission from the 23-man Ballon d’Or shortlist was bound to cause controversy.
Even if these nominations were to be dominated by international exploits following an incredible World Cup, Suarez surely deserves a mention. Uruguay’s record-scorer sensationally returned from injury to down England and help his nation into the last 16.
So far, so good for Suarez’s case, until the fiery forward received a four-month ban for an unsavoury incident with Giorgio Chiellani, whom he was adjudged to have bitten during La Celeste’s encounter with Italy.
In his absence, Uruguay crashed out of the World Cup against a James Rodriguez-inspired Colombia and, due to disciplinary issues, Suarez has now missed over 30 games through suspension in the last four terms.
Regardless of speculation that his omission from the prestigious award list was due to his unsporting behaviour, accusations of which have dogged the sensational striker throughout his career, Suarez has undoubtedly missed crucial game time for both club and nation.
To be crowned best player in Europe, the winner must not just possess the trophies and talent, but also needs to be consistent and reliable when the chips are down. Suarez has not yet illustrated that he is capable of this and may have to wait for further personal accolades until he does.
Whilst it can be argued Suarez is still not quite at the level of Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo (5/2 to be Champions League top scorer), he should be at least considered alongside nominees Gareth Bale, Thomas Muller (16/1) and Diego Costa (33/1).
Surely on merit and skill, Suarez is equal, if not superior, to their talents. However, unlike the aforementioned, the ex-Ajax frontman did not lift any major silverware last campaign or, alternatively, represent his country in the final stages of the World Cup.
His influence on the biggest stages has not yet reaped enough tangible results, with his efforts crucially not enough to guide Liverpool to a trophy. In the Ballon d’Or, when competing against serial winners like Ronaldo, almost is not good enough. So Suarez need not feel snubbed or persecuted by his omission but, rather, view it as a challenge.
Perhaps now, at the Nou Camp, if Suarez can impress above Messi and co, and make the most of a platform consisting of world class talent, the controversial attacker will finally be recognised in the next round of nominations.