Having scored his 18th league of the season, Luis Suárez was substituted in the final minutes of Barcelona’s recent comfortable 4-1 win over Real Betis. The Uruguayan hobbled off with a sprained ankle at the Benito Villamarin. According to reports, the striker will miss 10-15 days, possibly ruling him out for the blockbuster UCL tie with Manchester United.
Here’s why Luis Suárez’s absence won’t affect Barcelona
The 32-year-old was also due to play for his national team against Uzbekistan, consequently, he has now withdrawn from the squad. From a Barca perspective, the injury coinciding with the international break is fortunate timing, however, even if he returns quickly, it’ll take a few games for him to get back into full stride. Barcelona play their first leg against Manchester United at Old Trafford on April the 10th, with the second encounter six days later at the Nou Camp.
Although he is Barcelona’s undisputed first-choice striker, I’m going to go on record and say that his teammates won’t miss him as much as you might think. What you have to realise is that the 32-year-old’s influence on how his team plays has reduced significantly this season. He’s always been a supporting act to Lionel Messi, but recently, he’s taken up an even more reserved role. A role that’s seen him become less of a game-winner and more of a stat-padder after Messi’s done the hard work.
In reality, Messi has been in scintillating form, regularly carrying the Catalonians through games they haven’t deserved to win. The fifth best player in the world has scored 39 goals and provided 15 assists in 36 appearances, it’s through this form that Barcelona have sustained their dominance at the top of Spanish football, not because of Luis Suárez.
In 38 games this season, the former Liverpool striker has scored 24 goals, averaging a goal every 154 minutes. That’s an OK return for most strikers, but not for Luis Suárez in a Barca team flourishing in terms of creativity. The reason he’s become less important to the side can be accredited to the emergence of Ousmane Dembélé and Philippe Coutinho.
The 21-year-old Frenchman has grown in leaps and bounds this season, under the tutelage of Lionel Messi. In 33 appearances, the explosive winger has contributed to 20 goals whilst averaging 1.9 dribbles and 1.5 created chances a game. Add to the mix, the exploits of Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suárez can be branded a distant memory. Although he’s not lived up to his £146million price tag, the Brazilian has still directly contributed to 14 goals whilst creating a host of chances.
Luis Suárez has undoubtedly been one of the best strikers of his generation, but time waits for no man and for the biting Uruguayan, the injury problems are starting to pile up. Since arriving in Spain, the 32-year-old has been injured 10 times, equating to 149 days on the sidelines. And let’s face it, he’s not getting any younger. We’ve seen prime Suárez in years before, but now the 32-year-old is living off Messi’s scraps. You’ll see how Barcelona play at Old Trafford without the Uruguayan and you won’t even notice the difference.