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Suarez v Salah: Old flame or current love?

So Luis Suarez v Mohamed Salah didn’t happen then. Poor Mo still hadn’t recovered from his MMA stoppage loss to Sergio Ramos in Kiev, while Suarez may as well have been sat on the bench next to him for all the use he was to Uruguay on the day. 

 

It would have been interesting to see the Reds current superstar go head to head with the last man to hold that title, but sadly it was not to be. It did get me thinking though. Who’s better - peak Suarez or current Salah? It's a tough one. I didn’t believe I’d ever see anyone else who would come close to Suarez; certainly not so soon anyway. Yet here we are. 

 

What Salah did this season compares favourably with anything we’ve ever seen before. In terms of an individual campaign what Mo did this year is up there with prime John Barnes in the late 80s, Ian Rush’s 47 goal haul in 1983 and yes, Suarez in 2013/14. 

 

Had we won the Champions League it would probably stand out as the single greatest individual season we’ve had. It still might be, it just doesn’t feel like it given how it ended. 

 

44 goals from someone who isn’t a centre forward is ridiculous though. There’s only really Lionel Messi who can put up those kind of numbers from a non-central position. Salah was truly amazing this season, not just in the number of goals but the manner of them. 

 

The dribble against Spurs, the curler against Roma, the juggle in Porto, the postage stamp against Everton and that one against Watford when he left all ten outfield players, the coach, the kit man and Elton John on the seat of their pants before rolling it into the corner. All amazing, memorable moments.
 

salah1_600.jpg
 

Suarez never managed to reach the 40 goal mark at Anfield, although in his best season he did hit 31 league goals. Had Suarez been playing in Europe that year he may have been somewhere around the same mark that Salah bagged this year, but probably not as Brendan Rodgers' track record in Europe doesn't exactly compare favourably to Jurgen Klopp's.
 
Suarez led us into the Champions League but didn’t stick around to play in it. That resulted in the mother of all hangovers. Missing out on the title, Suarez leaving and then his replacement being Mario frigging Balotelli. It was a triple whammy. You don’t recover from that easily. 

 

I took it really badly. I avoided watching him play for Barca for at least 12 months, maybe even longer. I didn’t need a reminder of what we had lost, especially given the clown we’d brought in to replace him. Depeche Mode would come on the radio and I’d switch it off. An Adele song would come on and I’d leave it on. What can I say, her words resonated with me at the time. That’s the dark place I was in. 

 

I was in that place for a long time too. Basically until Klopp arrived. I’m sure many of you reading this were in the same boat. Maybe not the Adele stuff, but the rest of it. It was tough getting over Luis. 

 

The club itself couldn’t let go either. All those desperate sounding interviews they ran with him about how he’ll always have a special place in his heart for us, he’d never play for another English club and blah blah blah 

 

Some fans clung to it like a lifebelt, for me it just made me bitter and resentful - shut up Suarez, we don’t want your pity and insincere platitudes. 

 

Liverpool though, they seemed to need it. They wanted to “still be friends” and for the split to be amicable. He even featured in a “Why I love Liverpool” documentary on LFCTV. Spare me, please. 

 

It may have taken a while but we’re all 'over' Suarez now, aren’t we? Maybe there’s still a few out there pining for him, but most of us have finally moved on and Salah is a big reason for that. There’s a new sherif in town, with a cute little smile and a curly head of hair you just want to ruffle. 

 

There’s still the odd moment when we might wonder “imagine how great Suarez would be in this team” but for the most part he is a distant memory and we’re more than happy with what we have now. The Kop even chanted last season “if we still had Suarez, he’d be on the bench”. Not true of course, but the fact we can joke about it now speaks volumes. 

 

In a list of our greatest ever players Suarez wouldn’t even make the top ten because he doesn’t have the longevity of legends like Steven Gerrard, John Barnes, the King, Alan Hansen and others. In terms of who is the best player I’ve seen at Liverpool though, he gets my vote. 

 

A bold statement I know, and probably an unpopular one with many of you, but he played at a level very few have come close to and what he’s gone on to do since he left confirmed his standing as one of the all time greats. Even on his ‘bad' days he’d still do something to get you out of your seat. His ability, his tenacity and his will to win were just on another level. 

 

I didn’t think we’d ever get anyone as good as Suarez again, yet we now have another genuine superstar in our ranks only a few years later. It might be a stretch to claim Salah is better, especially as the pair are so different to each other in style and personality, but it wouldn't be completely over the top either. It's certainly worthy of discussion. 

 

Salah has a better supporting cast and a better manager than Suarez had when he was here. That’s not to say Suarez didn’t have quality around him, just that the current team has more. It’s natural to wonder how peak Suarez would have fared in this current set up, or how the current Salah would have done in the 2014 team, but the truth is there’s no way of knowing. 

 

My gut feeling is that Suarez would smash the 50 goal barrier in this team but it’s impossible to tell because the whole dynamic of the side would change. Suarez might not gel with Salah and Sadio Mané in the way Bobby Firmino has, so it’s all hypothetical. Salah would have done well in the 2014 side but I suspect he'd struggle to even reach half as many goals as he got this year. 

 

Salah doesn’t bring any of the “baggage” that Suarez did and he’s less likely to break our hearts. He still might of course, it would be naive to think he’ll stay here forever while forsaking all others, but if he did go he’d let us down a lot more gently than Suarez did and I’m fairly certain we never have to worry about him trying to force through a move to fucking Arsenal. ARSENAL??? 

 

I’d like to think Suarez looks back on that with shame and asks himself “what the hell was I thinking?”. He probably doesn’t though as footballers tend to not think the same way fans do. Besides, on a list of “what the hell was I thinking” moments, Luis has plenty to choose from. 

 

Numerically, Salah has the edge and he’s also appreciated and liked far more by the general football public too. Suarez was hated by everyone else, with good reason, but then that made us love him more. He was a villain but he was our villain. In comparison, Mo is a saint. Usually I'd find that irritating, but he's just such a genuine, lovely fella it's impossible not to love him 

 

But in answer who is better; sorry, but it’s 2014 Suarez. I wish it wasn’t, but it is. For now anyway. Hopefully we’ll revisit this in 12 months and it will be a different answer.

 

 

Dave Usher

@theliverpoolway


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Your second last paragraph is key, Dave. The hatred of Suarez by everybody else undoubtedly made him even more loved than he would have been at the club. People even turn a blind spot to the fact that he wanted out for at least half his short time with us, even to a club like Arsenal.

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Also, that Salah can produce a season like that while being an always likeable, decent and rule-abiding human being is pretty astonishing.

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Does Salah have a better supporting cast?

 

That team did come 2nd in the league and scored 17 more league goals than what we did this season.

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Does Salah have a better supporting cast?

 

That team did come 2nd in the league and scored 17 more league goals than what we did this season.

 

A deep-lying Gerrard, Coutinho, Sterling and a fit Sturridge weren't too shabby either. Rodgers had them set up pretty well, but didn't have a Plan B when we needed one.

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Suarez’s last season is like the first Rocky film. I look back on it fondly because it was probably the most enjoyable season of football I’ve ever experienced following us. It obviously didn’t have its Istanbul moment but outside of the champions league 04/05 was a garbage season. 08/09 was frustrating because we never left it all on the pitch and it also felt like we were never really in itx

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Suarez’s last season is like the first Rocky film. I look back on it fondly because it was probably the most enjoyable season of football I’ve ever experienced following us. It obviously didn’t have its Istanbul moment but outside of the champions league 04/05 was a garbage season. 08/09 was frustrating because we never left it all on the pitch and it also felt like we were never really in itx

best overall season has to be 2001, at 1 point around March April felt like we played every 2 days, did the job on 4 fronts
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A deep-lying Gerrard, Coutinho, Sterling and a fit Sturridge weren't too shabby either. Rodgers had them set up pretty well, but didn't have a Plan B when we needed one.

 

Not sure Klopp does either, but he does have a better squad overall and a better defence

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Peak Suarez for me. He would make me laugh aloud on the kop at some of the things he’d do, he was incredible that season. His variety of goals also, he scored every type you could ask for, and he did it while being double and triple teamed, so while not as unselfish as salah, he created tonnes of space for Sterling and Sturridge by default.

 

Salah was ace last year, and exceptionally likeable with it, but for me, what Suarez did for us in almost single handedly dragging us as close as we’ve been in decades to a title, was more notable than Salah’s part in taking us as close to a European cup as we’ve been in 10 years.

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best overall season has to be 2001, at 1 point around March April felt like we played every 2 days, did the job on 4 fronts

The football was beyond dour. 4 centre backs and 4 centre miss most games with Heskey and Owen up front.

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Salah is amazing but have to go with Suarez 13/14. Single-handedly almost won us the the title. Had he played in the first 5 league games of the season AND taken our dozen or so penalties that season, he would have obliterated the Premiership goalscoring record. He was absolutely sensational and he made every single player around him much better. Sterling, Sturridge, Coutinho, Henderson etc. all were brilliant that season because Suarez bought the best out of them. That his departure left us a 3rd rate team until Klopp came along demonstrates just how vital he was to us.

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I think it's sort of like the Messi and Ronaldo comparisons. One is a great scorer and a puller of strings, and one is a self contained attacking force.

 

I still feel a Messi or a Suarez's ability to influence a game depends more on the players available around them, whereas with Ronaldo or Mo you can graft them onto a shit team and that side's threat level would instantly be increased massively, owing to their pace and direct nature of their play.

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I actually think Suarez' general play was better from 2011-2013. He couldn't hit a barn door but his dribbling and turns were obnoxiously good. He was such a unique player but he really didn't give a flying fuck about us.

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Have the club been on and warned you off using the clubs official liverbird...the one in that new logo is a funny looking thing!

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No it is Mo for me. Suarez sullied himself with the Arsenal thing and still weaseled his way out of the club within 18 months. It was really no different to Sterling and look at the shit he deservedly gets.

 

At least Mo has not given it the I always used to be Liverpool on the Play Station or whatever. Sure we all defended Suarez on the biting and other thing but the problem for me was and is he brought a lot of shit onto the club which people still throw at us because shit sticks.

 

I am under no illusion. Mo Bobby and Sadio will all probably want to leave the club if certain other Spanish clubs come sniffing. And it will not matter whether we have won cups and titles because that is the way players today are. Not one of them will come out and say I am not leaving Liverpool. Instead they hide behind what they do not say.

 

So buckle up and enjoy the ride because one day they will go.

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I think Mo is on the verge of ruining football for me. When he goes, whether it be a big-bucks move to Barca or after a testimonial in front of a crowd of 85,000 in The Ground That Salah Built, I'll be demanding players not only not be arseholes, but be decent human beings. Get up yer diving prick, Mo didn't do that! Stop mouthing off yer gobby cunt, Mo didn't do that!

 

He's the last best hope for peace.

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