After a memorable 2013/14 season in the Premier League, where he netted 31 goals in just 33 appearances and solidified his status as one of the best strikers in world football, the arrival of Luis Suarez at FC Barcelona was confirmed on July 11th, 2014. The Uruguayan signed a five-year contract with a fee of €82.3M, making it the 4th most expensive transfer in football history at the time. Contrary to his time at Liverpool where he wore #7, he opted for #9 at Barcelona, previously worn by Alexis Sanchez.
After serving a 4-month ban for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup, Luis Suárez finally made his competitive Barcelona debut on October 25th on the biggest stage in all of La Liga: El Clásico. “El Pistolero” was named in the starting XI and made an instant impact, assisting Neymar just four minutes into the game.
Despite performing well on a weekly basis, he struggled to find the back of the net. Going scoreless for five consecutive matches, Suárez finally managed to break the deadlock with a marvelous goal to take the lead in a 4-0 thrashing of APOEL in the Group Stage of the Champions League. In the league alone, however, it took him a total of eight games to finally introduce the ball to a net, doing so against Cordoba on Matchday 16.
Overcoming the obstacles of the suspension and initial goal drought, Luis Suárez went on to finish the 2014/15 season with a total of 25 goals and 23 assists (48 G+A) across all competitions in a mere 43 matches played, playing a crucial role in Barcelona’s “perfect” season, winning La Liga, Copa del Rey, and the Champions League in his debut season.
MSN: Football’s Greatest Trio
Alongside fellow South Americans Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr, Luis Suárez was part of the most prolific trio in football history. Racking up a combined 122 goals in their first season together, MSN set the record for most goals scored by an attacking trio in a single season, only to beat it the following season with 131 goals scored in 2015/16.
In the 3 seasons they spent together at Camp Nou, they registered a total of 364 goals and 171 assists (535 G+A) in 450 games. Featuring as a trio, they marked 113 matches with 253 goals.
In 2015/16, the levels of Luis Suárez discovered a new summit, winning his first Pichichi Trophy and second European Golden Boot with 40 goals in La Liga. Magnificently, 14 of his 40 goals came in the final five matchdays of a tight title race, including a hat-trick against Granada on the final day of the season. With his three goals, Barcelona won 3-0 and clinched the title, beating their Madrid-based arch-rivals by a single point. Within this monstrous streak of performances, the Uruguayan became the first player in the 21st century to have a direct involvement in 7 goals in a single La Liga game, scoring 4 and creating another 3 against Deportivo La Coruna. Just three days later, he scored another 4 against Sporting Gijon, becoming the first player to do so in back-to-back matches in La Liga history.
Luis was also the Spanish top flight’s joint-leading assist-provider, registering 16 assists in 35 matches, same as teammate Leo Messi.
In total, Suárez scored a career-high of 59 goals in 53 games in 2015/16, further decorating it with 24 assists, 5 hat-tricks, 3 pokers, 4 titles (La Liga, Copa del Rey, European Super Cup, and Club World Cup), and various individual honors (La Liga MVP, CWC Golden Ball, CWC Golden Boot, CDR Top Scorer, Trofeo Aldo Rovira, etc). It’s safe to say that Luis Suárez’s 2015/16 ranks among the greatest individual performances in football history.
Luis is a penalty area assassin, a killer, capable of resolving any situation that crops up in the area. If we also consider the pressure he puts on defenders by closing them down and the way he encourages the others, then he is indispensableLuis Enrique, 2015
Domestic Celebrations, European Woes
In the following three seasons, Suárez was a consistently prolific figure in Spain. Scoring 85 goals in 122 games across all domestic competitions, He won 2 La Liga titles (2017/18, 2018/19), another 2 Copa del Rey trophies (2016/17, 2017/18) making it four in a row, and 2 Supercopas de España (2016, 2018) with Barcelona. However, he seemed to struggle in Europe. After racking up a magnificent 7 and 8 goals in his first two Champions League campaigns with Barcelona, it was undeniable that the mere 3, 1, and 1 goals scored in the next three seasons was a disappointment. There were also significant struggles with away games, individually and collectively, as he failed to score in each of the 15 games he played on enemy grounds between 2016/17 and 2018/19.
After humiliating defeats by Juventus (0-3), AS Roma (4-4*) and Liverpool (3-4), a palpable yearning for a European trophy consumed the Blaugrana faithful, overshadowing the domestic successes and diminishing their significance in the eyes of the fans.
A Bitter End
In his final season as an FC Barcelona player, Suárez struggled with a knee injury which eventually forced him into surgery and time off the field. Despite still managing to register a total of 33 goal involvements (21+12) in 36 games, a feat not many 33-year-olds can boast, the 2019/20 season was unanimously considered a disappointment for Suárez and Barcelona. They struggled to cope with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, failing to win a single trophy for the first time since the 2007/08 season and suffering a historic humiliation by Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
Once the season was finished, newly-appointed coach Ronald Koeman informed Luis Suárez that he doesn’t fit into his plans for the coming campaign, to the surprise of many. Eventually, on September 23rd, Suárez completed a transfer to Atlètico Madrid, a direct La Liga rival, for just €6M. He went on to win La Liga with the Rojiblancos, scoring 21 goals, while Barcelona finished third.
During the 6 years he spent as a Barcelona player, Luis Suárez made 283 appearances for the club, finishing the era with 198 goals and 109 assists, ranking comfortably at #3 among Barcelona’s all time top-scorers. He also won 13 trophies with the club, including 4 La Liga’s and a Champions League, as well as the hearts of many Culès around the world.