As Luis Suarez walked off the pitch at the Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes, he was content with knowing it was his goal scoring exploits that would be getting the headlines. In his second season with FC Barcelona, Suarez more than doubled his league goal scoring total from a season ago, notching 40 goals in 35 games.
The Uruguayan took Spain’s Pichichi, Spain’s golden boot, in style, scoring 14 goals in the club’s last five matches. Saturday’s hat-trick against Granada was even sweeter as Barcelona pipped eternal rivals Real Madrid to the La Liga title. Perhaps now Suarez can put the ugly biting incidents that have marred his career behind him, now that he has taken bit out of the Pichichi.
Suarez’s goal scoring never hit a dry spell during the season. In fact, the Uruguayan went no more than three games on the trot without scoring. The striker had ten multi-goal games, with six being hat-tricks.
During October as Lionel Messi rehabilitated a knee injury, Suarez carried Barcelona at a time the team could have found themselves lose ground in La Liga to the Madrid sides. The striker scored six times in Messi’s absence as the Catalans won four of five in Spain. By late January, Barcelona spent the remainder of the season in first place, a position they occupied for 27 of 38 weeks.
Yet, it hasn’t all been goal scoring success for Suarez in 2015-16. In January, the striker was suspended for two Copa Del Rey matches following an ugly incident against rivals Espanyol. Suarez reportedly insulted two Espanyol players in the tunnel following Barcelona’s Copa Del Rey win over them. Other than his suspension for an accumulation for yellow cards, Suarez has been a saint with Barcelona. At least, as saintly as Luis Suarez can be.
His play led many to proclaim him as Barcelona’s most valuable player, as Messi and Neymar were more of a supporting cast to him thanks to injuries and dips in form. His 40 goals led La Liga, breaking up the duopoly of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo winning the golden boot in the last six seasons. In all competitions Suarez netted 59 times, and he still has the Copa Del Rey final to play, a chance to hit 60 goals in a season.
In terms of La Liga, Suarez accounted for 37% of Barcelona’s goals. However, if his 16 assists are calculated into the equation, Suarez either scored or assisted over 50% of Barcelona’s goals in 2015-16. Compared to Messi, in terms of goals and assists combined, the Argentine only accounted for 39% of Barcelona’s scoring.
Right now, Suarez is the frontrunner for the next FIFA Ballon d’Or. His output during the season, in a league many regard as the best and most tactical in the world, has been out of this universe. This season showed it is not all about Messi and Ronaldo, as Suarez has made the two-man rival three-way dance.
Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @DrewMFarmer. Check out his new book, Soccer Travels, in paperback or on Kindle at Amazon.com.