In the context of English Premier League, very few can claim the titular credential of a ‘legend’ and it is particularly difficult for non-British players to achieve. It is a subjective claim to fame and only the most universally loved footballers can claim to be one. The parameters to earn a legendary status can encompass a plethora of qualities; the multiple layers combined can differentiate a very good player from a great and a great player from a legend.
Luis Suarez, the outrageously talented Liverpool forward, can be a basket case to understand how a footballer who is otherwise miles ahead of his peers can be termed a club legend.
The Uruguayan has scored 69 goals in 110 PL appearances since joining Liverpool in the winter of 2011. These are numbers that put you on a stepping stone for a legendary figure, but let’s try to analyze if he ticks the boxes in the key areas which define greatness:
Scoring ability and technique: Can Suarez make it into the “Premier League’s Top Goalscorers” list? From what we have seen, surely he is up with the best on abilities and his numbers back Suarez up to the hilt.
There are only handful of players who can match Suarez’s skills and his immense vision for a goal scoring chance. Be it beating 2-3 defenders, scoring from set pieces or distribution, Suarez is a complete striker and there will be few like him in future too. Admittedly he has a streak of selfishness about him but that is the case for every great striker with bags of self-confidence.
Big Match Temperament: Suarez came to the PL on the back of a stellar show at Ajax, and proved doubters wrong in the first opportunity. He adapted to the rigors of the English football quite well, in fact his technique is such that it can shape an entire squad around his style. However, in the most critical phase of his team, i.e., the final stages of the title run-in for 2013-14 season Suarez came unstuck and could not inspire Liverpool to EPL glory.
(Lack of) Controversy: This is where Suarez as a package completely fails, modern football demands its stars to be largely well-behaved and free of incidents. Suarez has his own record book of on pitch misdemeanours that severely dents his credentials to reach the pantheon of greats. Without going into the details, it suffices to say that given the range of his ghastly acts there is no further room for Suarez to slip up.
Fan Support: Three and a half years is bit too early to be counted as a club talisman, but can definitely show early indicators. While Suarez might be hugely popular with Liverpool fans, for the neutral he is still not as associated with Liverpool like other greats (like Drogba and Chelsea, Fabregas and Arsenal, Kompany and Manchester City) who achieved revered status in relatively short time period.
Maybe his severe indiscipline is a huge turn off for the neutrals, or the fact that he has not grown up at the club or won a trophy of significance with the club is what is stopping him short to turn into a Phenomenon.
In summary, football lovers are in thrall of Luis Suarez as a footballer, but factors like leadership in critical situation, lack of a level-headed demeanor and lack of team’s success still have the jury out on Suarez’s absolute greatness.