Back to the Land of the Living

By: Alfonso Duro

It took a long time, but the best version of Luis Suárez appeared in Bilbao, where his new team beat Athletic, 2-5, and the Uruguayan was able to score after 29 days without doing so. His numbers are actually not so terrible, as six goals in 18 games is a respectable average for anyone who is not Ronaldo or Messi, but when you are playing alongside these monsters, and when a team pays 80 million euros for you, six goals in six months just won’t cut it.

But things could be changing now, and after a rough start, Suárez seems to be making a move towards recovering his best football, and Neymar and Messi are awaiting him with open arms.

BITING THE BULLET. The most notorious biter in the history of sports since Mike Tyson didn’t make the best impression upon his arrival to Barcelona this summer. The team couldn’t find its footing, Suárez seemed to have gained some weight, and his performances were quite subpar when he finally started playing after his four-month suspension after biting Giorgio Chiellini during the World Cup. His big debut came against Real Madrid, at Santiago Bernabéu, but the Uruguayan couldn’t have chosen a worse time to start suiting up for the Blaugranas. Barça lost to the Merengues, and Luis Enrique came under fire for playing his newest addition when he was clearly not in the best shape.

THE LONG WAY BACK. After his first bad experience as a Barcelona player, there was nothing more to do than try to improve. After all, an 80-million-euro investment is a long-term investment, thus the reason why the Catalan club didn’t mind the fact that the Uruguayan would be banned for four months from the get-go.

The great news for Luis Suárez was that Luis Enrique was his biggest fan during his slump. Not only did he make him play the minute he was available (against Real Madrid at Bernabéu), but throughout his first few months, Barça’s head coach never gave up and kept Suárez in his lineups despite his poor form.

That confidence seems to have paid off, and while at first Suárez’s big contributions were to set up Messi and Neymar, after his wonderful goal against Athletic Bilbao we are probably going to see the feared scorer that took England by storm while at Liverpool.

ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST. It was only a matter of time before the best side of Suárez would show up at Barcelona. A player who had thrived in less-skillful rosters—those of Liverpool and the Uruguayan national team—is bound to succeed in such a pool of talent as the one the Blaugranas have. More than that: his new teammates seem to be giving him a sharper edge when it comes to beating goalkeepers.

And so, the Uruguayan is back on the list of top players at Barcelona, Messi and Neymar have found a great partner in crime on the attack, and Luis Enrique has been vindicated in his decision to put all his weight behind the most dangerous choice: buying a forward who was going to miss a large part of the season and who’s always going to carry the burden of his past actions.

While there’s no saying how important the psychological help he has been getting has been in his return from football purgatory, we can definitely assure his last bizarre advertising campaign has had zero impact on his improvement.

Alfonso Duro is a Spanish freelance writer. When he's not managing Google's agency in the United Arab Emirates (his current job), chances are he's watching and writing about soccer.