Why Luis Suarez is strong candidate for Golden Ball | Soccer | CBC Sports

SoccerWhy Luis Suarez is strong candidate for Golden Ball

Posted: Friday, September 27, 2013 | 07:28 PM

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Liverpool forward Luis Suárez may be in line for a big season if he can keep his emotions in check, according to Scott Regehr. Liverpool forward Luis Suárez may be in line for a big season if he can keep his emotions in check, according to Scott Regehr.

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Liverpool striker Luis Suarez makes his return to the pitch this week, and despite a history of questionable behaviour, the forward has plenty of factors working in his favour in his quest for the Golden Ball award. 
From chomping on Branislav Ivanovic to champing at the bit to get back to action, Luis Suarez is seldom far from the headlines.

As it should be for the best player in the English Premiership -- and maybe in the world -- who returns to action this week.

The league will be the better for it.

Some will say it isn't so. That the Uruguayan has worn out his welcome after being accused of vulgarities ranging from racism to cannibalism. 

The problem is, for all those devils, he's an angel with the soccer ball.

So much so, Suarez could well go from being black-balled (see FA's handling of Suarez vs. Evra) to being golden-balled.

For me, Suarez stands as good a chance as any of being 2014's Ballon D'or winner as World Player of the Year.

Why Suarez has good shot at top player

Here's why:

  • He's the best player in the best-known league on earth.
Last year Suarez scored 30 goals in all competitions. Have a look back at the tape....errrr...digital imaging. In most cases he creates scoring chances from nothing. Some are with his head, others are the end result of a spirited run, and in some he curls in a seemingly impossible free kick. 

Bale and van Persie scored in similar ways, but both had far stronger supporting casts. Look at how many of RVP's goals were assisted by Wayne Rooney. Look at how many the Dutchman scored from the spot. As for Bale, witness how Defoe, Lennon and even Kyle Walker open up space for him to exploit. 

For those of you saying, "What about Steven Gerrard?!" give me a break. Stevie G was deployed largely in a holding role by manager Brendan Rogers and this season promises more of the same.

Suarez was, and had to be, a one-man show.

  • To be considered for the Ballon D'Or, a player will benefit from excelling in the Champions League
After all, one needs to prove oneself against the best of the best.

Last year, on a Liverpool side that finished seventh, Suarez didn't get the chance to do so. Following this season, I'd bet he will.

After a year under Rodgers, the Northern Irishman's systems are fully in place at Anfield.  

Liverpool has added last year's best goalie in Simon Mignolet along with capable defenders in Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho. 

They've lost Phillipe Coutinho's creativity to injury, but Victor Moses will go a long way to filling that void. The Reds have augmented their core without completely changing it.

Even without Suarez, the team has managed a strong start with three wins and a draw in five contests, and they've done this while scoring just five goals. With Suarez? Look out.

There has been so much upheaval at Spurs, City, United and Chelsea that none can be counted upon as genuine title favourites.

Ironically, it could be Arsenal -- who Suarez was linked to in the off-season -- that could give Liverpool the best run of the lot.

That said, the Gunners (like Chelsea, City and United) will have their depth tested as they compete in this year's Champions League. Liverpool, on the other hand, has no such worries.

World Cup year

  • To be considered for the Ballon D'Or a player must star in the World Cup in a World Cup year.
Right now Uruguay is just trying to get in to the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

A vital match in Ecuador looms next month and a win in Quito and a positive result at home against rivals Argentina will see them through.

Both are tall tasks. But, if La Celeste doesn't go through directly they'll have another shot through an intercontinental playoff. That's how Uruguay qualified for the 2010 World Cup. 

It rode the opportunity all the way through to the semifinals. I recall Suarez playing a particularly important role against Ghana in getting there. In South Africa it was Suarez's countryman, Diego Forlan, who was named the tournament's best player. Forlan is now in his mid-30's and past his prime. Now it will be Suarez who is expected to take the lead role in Brazil.

For those of you pointing to holders Spain, Germany or another European power as the likely champion next summer, remember that on all but one occasion the World Cup winner has come from the continent hosting the event.

There are, of course, many "ifs" involved with an argument for Luis Suarez being next year's World Player of the Year.

What if Messi leads Barcelona or Argentina to the Champions League trophy and/or World Cup? Or Neymar for Barca/Brazil? Perhaps one of the three R's: Ronaldo, Robben or Ribery will do enough to claim the prize?

The biggest "if" though, is what if Suarez loses the plot again?

He has proven time and again he is his own worst enemy. That though, can be said for many mad soccer geniuses before him.

The likes of Best, Maradona and Zidane all showed they had serious character flaws on more than one big occasion.

I, for one, hope Luis Suarez can wrestle his demons and reach his potential.

We know this much already.

Even if he fails, it'll be compelling to watch.

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