COMMENT: The Merseysiders’ star man has been in sensational form this season but he should leave Anfield if he gets the chance to the Liga giants this summer
Luis Suarez faces Crystal Palace tonight needing two more goals in Liverpool’s remaining two fixtures to break the Premier League scoring record over a 38-game season.
It would be the perfect way for the Uruguayan to finish a sensational individual campaign before moving on to bigger and better things.
Suarez has been the outstanding player in the division this season with a stunning record of 30 goals in 31 league matches, a strike rate that propelled Liverpool up the table into an unlikely title race.
The Reds can still win their first league title in 24 years if Manchester City slip up – but whatever happens, Suarez should be seriously considering a summer move to Real Madrid.
The noises are already growing in football circles that Suarez is this year’s chosen Galactico of Real Madrid president Florentino Perez after the Spanish giants spent a world record £86 million on Gareth Bale last summer.
Bale joined Madrid as the best player in England having won the PFA and FWA player of the year awards.
Suarez will find himself in the same situation this summer.
The 27-year-old will find he has plenty of reasons to stay at Liverpool. He signed a four-and-half-year contract in December worth £200,000 a week as a reward for his outstanding form; he has improved dramatically under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers; Liverpool are one of the most famous clubs on the planet and will be back where they belong in the Champions League next season.
But they are not Real Madrid.
Suarez claims he is “very happy” and “nothing is going to happen” in the summer, but the chance to move to the Spanish capital is one that few players are able to turn down.
Cristiano Ronaldo pushed through the move in 2009, Bale did the same in 2013. It was an opportunity, they were warned, that might not come again.
One win away from that holy grail of a 10th European title, Madrid have built a team in no small part based on targeting the best Premier League talent. Ronaldo, Bale, Luka Modric and Xabi Alonso all arrived from England.
If Suarez wants to truly be considered one of the very best on the planet, perhaps even one of the greatest of all time, he must follow the same path.
He has conquered the Premier League, now it is time for a new challenge.
At Real Madrid, alongside Bale and Ronaldo, he could have a genuine chance of one day winning the Ballon d’Or.
He will be able to play in a Spanish-speaking environment and escape from the English media, who he has often sought to blame for his own significant transgressions, not least the Patrice Evra racism incident and his decision to try and bite a chunk out of Branislav Ivanovic.
Liverpool have been wonderful to watch this season, but in reality this has been their chance to win the league. It will only get harder next season as rivals improve and Rodgers attempts to balance competing for the league with winning in Europe.
Last year, when Arsenal tried to sign Suarez for £40m, Liverpool admirably held firm. When Suarez tried to force the transfer and gave newspaper interviews stating his desire to leave, they told him to shut up.
But if Suarez was willing to kick up such a fuss to move to Arsenal, how far will he be willing to go to sign for Real Madrid?
For Liverpool’s owners, FSG, a bid worth more than £60m from a foreign club – not a direct rival -would be hard to resist. Indeed, it would be ‘moneyball’ in action. They found a player undervalued by the market at around £23m and they are now looking at making the best part of a £40m profit.
Suarez is an exceptional talent and one of the best the Premier League has ever seen – right up there with the likes of Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo.
His record this season, statistically at least, shows he is not far off the Portuguese superstar and Lionel Messi.
He deserves the chance to play alongside Ronaldo next season and establish himself as a true great of the game.
UNAMBITIOUS NORWICH DESERVE RELEGATION
Norwich deserve to go down after barely venturing over the halfway line against Chelsea on Sunday.
If Sunderland get anything against West Brom on Wednesday, relegation is assured for the Canaries.
You can understand why they opted to play it safe against Chelsea and a goalless draw is a more than respectable result when taken in isolation.
But playing for a draw encapsulated Norwich’s lack of attacking ambition this season.
They have now drawn 0-0 five times and, with 28 goals from 37 games, have scored the fewest number of goals of any Premier League team.
Norwich needed to beat Chelsea – a difficult task, granted – but played as though a point would be enough. They barely crossed the halfway line and never threatened the Blues’ backline as they kept 10 men behind the ball at all times.
Credit to stand-in manager Neil Adams for getting a result that improves his CV and, with it, his chances of getting the job full-time next season.
But Norwich are where they deserve to be in the table despite having a squad that should comfortably survive in the top flight.
Sunderland went to Chelsea last month and won. The fact that Norwich didn’t even try highlights why they are destined for the Championship next season.