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Suárez, Barça's heir to Eto'o

Suárez, Barça's heir to Eto'o


Luis Suárez hasn't taken long to become a Barcelona icon. In less than a year the Uruguayan striker has won over everybody. From his teammates to the coaching staff and the fans, people are lining up to describe the former Liverpool and Ajax star as just the forward Barça needed - the likes of which the club hasn't had since the days of Samuel Eto'o. Despite being denied a pre-season and having to get up to speed later than the rest of the squad because of his suspension, Suárez has struck a chord on all fronts. He works his socks off for the team, presses and both sets up and score goals. He also has great chemistry with Neymar and Leo Messi: indeed, his excellent relationship with the Argentine is an advantage that many of the attackers who came before him at the Camp Nou lacked. This season marks ten years since Eto'o joined Barcelona. No out-and-out number 9 since has thrived at the club in quite the way he did. The Cameroonian, who is now at Sampdoria, hit the ground running, bagging 29 goals in his first campaign between the league, Copa del Rey and Champions League, with a strike rate of 0.64 goals a game. Since he left in 2008-09, Barça have tried, in vain, to find a forward who would slot seamlessly into their distinctive system, in which Messi's prominence and freedom are key factors. Forced to wing it Even before Eto'o departed, Thierry Henry came in and although he was extremely successful during his three-year stint in Catalonia - he was especially influential in the conquest of the sextuple - he had to reprise the role as a winger that he had performed before moving to Arsenal. In his first season at the club he averaged 0.4 goals a match, netting 19 times in 47 appearances. He was even more productive the following term, but the goals dried up in his last campaign. That last year coincided with the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who replaced Eto'o in a part-exchange deal that also cost Barça a pretty penny. There were high hopes that the Swede would fill the Cameroonian's boots but, despite his impressive stats, he never fully fitted in. He bagged 21 goals in 41 fixtures, at a rate of 0.51 a game - the best of any of Eto'o's successors before Suárez. However, his problems with Pep Guardiola meant his stay at the Camp Nou was short-lived. The following season saw the signing of the hottest Spanish striker of the moment, David Villa. 'El Guaje' had a similar experience to Henry, being shifted out to the left flank, where he scored 23 goals in 51 matches in the first of his three years at the club. He certainly made the grade but, just like Henry, he didn't ever truly establish himself in a central position for Barcelona. The most recent attacking signings pre-Suárez were Alexis Sánchez and Neymar. The Chilean, snapped up after a sensational campaign in Serie A with Udinese, also found himself shunted out to the wing and his effectiveness diminished - his first-season record read 14 goals in 38 games, an average of 0.36. Neymar, meanwhile, posted the exact same tally in one more appearance, though it is worth noting that the Brazilian was an exception in that he wasn't billed as a central striker. Suárez, Eto'o's heir Suárez's strike rate of 0.54 (18 goals in 33 appearances) puts him out ahead in the post-Eto'o era. Perhaps even more tellingly, he has even been allowed to play through the middle. What's more, he has been especially lethal in Europe, where he has already bettered the haul plundered by all of the other post-Eto'o pretenders in their first seasons. His braces against Manchester City and PSG have proven that he is just what Barça have been looking for in the last decade. Read more: Suárez, Barça's heir to Eto'o - MARCA.com (English version) Read more: Suárez, Barça's heir to Eto'o - MARCA.com (English version)
Suárez, Barça's heir to Eto'o Reviewed by John walker on 3:15 PM Rating: 5
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