12 Nov 2013

LFC legend insists: Suarez needs to 'improve' in these TWO specific areas. Agree...?

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez is in sensational form this season, and despite missing the first few games through suspension, he's still managed to rack up 8 goals in 7 games for the Reds, which is an excellent return. Be that as it may, Anfield legend John Barnes believes Suarez still needs to improve in certain areas before he can be mentioned in the same breath as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Analysing Suarez's performances over the weekend, Barnes - undoubtedly one of the greatest players ever to grace the Anfield turf - observed:

"Suarez’s ball retention can improve. If you look at truly world class players, like Messi and Ronaldo, and analyse the amount of times they give the ball away, they retain possession 80$ of the time.

"I’d be surprised is Suarez doesn’t give the ball away 50% of the time. He tries so many impossible things, and sometimes it comes off. He’s not going to change. Also, his willingness to work hard for the team needs to improve".

Of course, the Uruguayan's staunch fanbase will refuse to accept Barnes' comments, but rather unsurprisingly, I agree with his views (to an extent). Great players can always improve, and that applies to Suarez, Messi, Ronaldo, and any other top player you care to mention. (Not that I'm suggesting Suarez doesn't try and improve every day; I'm sure he does). Barnes is, however, right about Suarez's ball retention.

* Suarez's passing accuracy in the opposition half = 74%
* Lionel Messi passing accuracy: 84%
* Cristiano Ronaldo passing accuracy: 78%
* Only Daniel Sturridge (72%) and Jose Enrique (67%) are worse.

To be fair, there's not a great difference between Suarez and Ronaldo, and like the Portuguese maestro, it could be argued that lack of ball retention is compensated by a great goalscoring record. Be that as it may, a player of Suarez's quality should (IMO) achieve a higher pass-completion rate overall.

As for working hard for the team - Barnes contends that Suarez, Sturridge and Coutinho do not tackle back enough, which means the Reds need two ball-winners in midfield to compensate. Many will disagree with that, and argue that Suarez chases down every loose ball etc. That's correct to an extent, but there are also occasions where he'll lose the ball, and throw his arms up in frustration and fail to chase. Indeed, this happened several times against Fulham.

It should also be noted that Barnes doesn't think that SAS and Coutinho *need* to track back as much as, say, Ian Rush did in the past, especially in a 352 formation. The problem, as he sees it, is that LFC don't have two reliable ball-winners at the moment to compensate.

Ultimately, does Suarez's passing accuracy matter? Is it an area he needs to improve?



  1. It's something he CAN improve. If he did then Barnes is right, he'd be talked about in just the same way as Messi or Ronaldo. So the potential is there but there is no burning need in this case. Suarez is a brilliant player right now and is already amongst the top 5-10 in the world. He'd be his own biggest critic, you can see that in the frustration he shows, and I'm sure he works very hard, probably he has to work incredibly hard to simply be as good as he is right now.

    It seems a moot point to me. We fans and pundits certainly have no influence over the player and perhaps even if he himself wanted to address these issues he might already be at his peak. At the top level of football the margins are so fine sometimes that some things just remain illusive no matter how hard you try. Suarez is already a staggering good footballer, pointing out a few of his imperfections seems kind of pointless beyond just being something to talk about over a couple of beers.

  2. I think barnes is talking nonsense. suarez is an elite. he plays different to every single player in the world. hes a fighter. he's ball retention is not gonna be the greatest if you know how suarez plays. hes very different to messi and Ronaldo. look at his goal against mingolet at sunderland for instance. only Suarez would attempt to score from this range and angle, because this is the type of player he is. or his goal against Norwich from the half way line. 9/10 that will go over the bar or the keeper will catch it and it will be classified a waist. but that's not the case with Suarez.
    for me if theres anything suarez has to improve on is his shooting accuracy. because at times shooting can be abit off. but as for this season, suarez is doing just fine. hes creating or scoring a goal every 59minutes and is on absolute fire. Suarez is in his own catergory. whereas bale and Ronaldo are very similar, Suarez is in his own lane. no1 plays like Luis Suarez.
    as a club I think its absolute blessing to have this guy in our squad. he will take us to the CL next year and mark my word we will do well if we got him in our side. LEGEND

  3. One area in particular that Sturridge usually does a very good job with is his hold up play... if he sees that he's by himself facing three defenders he'll wait it out for some reinforcements.

    Suarez, on the other hand, I feel like will get the ball and go rushing in come hell and high water. Moments like these are when he simply gives the ball away too much. Also, his conversion rate has historically been poor. Barnes is spot on with this point.

    In terms of his work rate, I don't think anyone can really question his effort for the club. In this regard, I disagree with Barnes.

  4. spot on. how can you question Suarez's work rate? the distance he covers speaks for itself.
    its a honour to have this guy at our club and he will win a Ballon Dor one day. I hope its with us.
    while suarez is on form, I think its wrong of anybody associated with LFC to critisice him. especially with pointless little points that don't mean anything against his actual record. lets wait for him to actually do something bad like not working hard and trying impossible things and not pulling them off. the points barnes bought up

  5. It's an interesting thought, and I particularly agree with the passing percentage in the final third. However, if improved ball retention stats came at the expense of a certain amount of his creativity being lost because he's less willing to try the spectacular, I'd say it probably wasn't worth it.. Because ultimately his ambition on the ball has won us many games over the last few years...

  6. He has already improved at least 20% since he arrived at LFC, and the improvement continues, I mean even his behaviour this season is impeccable. I would be quite happy if he just maintains the effort he already gives.

  7. The honour is his mate. Easy with those words- you are a Kopite...

  8. Wait for him to do something bad? I hate to break it to you... but he's already been suspended for non-football related incidents on the pitch... And then the summer flirtation with Real Madrid and Arsenal... The time has come and gone for him to avoid criticism for his behavior...

    And while I don't always agree with Jaimie on Suarez (I personally think JK nitpicks a bit too much as I've stated elsewhere), Jaimie is right in the sense that it's only a matter of time until the next incident...

    Luis Suarez is not beyond reproach... but the criticism leveled towards him has been for his behavior... not his overall standard of play.

  9. I see Brendon is taking the glory for Henderson ? I was incensed when he proposed a straight swap for Dempsey -that was madness. ps its not the 98 players like Luis we need to improve but the 70% ones.

  10. His retention could improve, he does have a high amount of turnovers, but his work rate? He does track back occasionally, and gives 100% Having him track too much is a trade off, which doesn't help the team - its better having him with more energy, and being place further up the field than having him track back.
    His shot accuracy could improve a bit too, he should have a couple more goals by now, but not a bad return none-the-less. As for his passes in the final third, well, thing is he doesn't always go for the easiest pass, with great risk comes greater rewards - in this aspect he is pretty much just as good as good as SG or PC - a look at some of his long balls and through balls often lead to a shot, or a good set up. Part of this has to do with the quality of the team - some don't anticipate the killer pass and so it is a turnover. When you compare him to Messi Or Ronaldo, you also need to compare Liverpool to Barca and Real - the quality of players on the receivng or giving end of passes and the amount of room they are allowed.
    A big part of the reason he is doing so well this season is improvement of the team overall, DS and PC will allow him more space.
    Overall can't complain about anything he has done since his return.

  11. I wouldn't worry about it. Some people on here know less about football than my nan. And she died in 1984.
    Id take it as a compliment when they disagree with me.

  12. True. Thats why Liverpool have to be near the top come janurary and signing the right players. Suarez wont have itchy feet if he feels hes in the right place.

  13. I think Barnes has slightly exaggerated things. Were Suarez doing what he is doing for us at Barcelona we'd have long run out of superlatives for him. once he is gone it will certainly be our loss.

    Further I dont really want to see suarez camped in his own half defending - occasionally yes, in the last 10 minutes yes no problem - but he is here to score goals and make goals. His record shows he doesnt let us down. Even in his first year he was guilty of overdoing things and trying to much himself. But that i would suggest was because of who he was playing with. Now he has more trust in his team mates we see a better suarez making goals as well as scoring them. I doubt there is a player in europe that creates so many chances for himself and others. Last season i can recall glaring chances that the likes of shelvey just shelved for want of a better word!

    BR with sturridge and coutinho and toure has bought in players that are comfortable with each other. The likes of johnson, enrique and gerrard also feed suarez. We cant compare the likes of suarez with ronaldo and messi simply because i doubt as a whole their leagues are as strong as ours - though they still maybe better players - i still feel the PL is overall much stronger - certainly i dont expect results like the sunderland v city in spain!

    The fact that someone like wenger wanted suarez despite his controversies shows how highly rated he is. And i regard wenger peerless as a manager, visionary and coach.

  14. Yes but it would be normal at least to say why you dissagree

  15. Its not an honour to have this guy at our club, its an honour for him to be playing for our club.

  16. Yes but it would be normal at least to say why you dissagree

  17. Definitely. I think this run of games after and including Everton is important. We should be looking to win all those games up to Spurs on the 15th of Dec. All of those who are within touching distance will play each other before the Spurs game as well as most of them playing European games as the games begin to come thick and fast.They could be dropping points as we should be picking some up and hopefully tiredness will be setting in when we have those tough away games. Having said that I think how well we beat the lower teams will determine where we finish this season.

  18. Nice to see this chart. Thx. Can see a steady improvement in points per game since BR era. Let's keep it going. Something is working. We are on the right track. CL qualification is getting me excited. Starting to feel confident again when projecting points even thru late dec. can't wait until then. Each match is going to mean a lot against others in race.

  19. Good post Jamie thanks. Interesting to see. Obviously 11 games doesn't tell us too much as we have only played United and Arsenal out of the bigger sides. A similar comparison after 19 games when we have played everyone would be good to see if you can bare that in mind?

  20. I agree to a point about passing, but never on work rate...that's part of the challenge of playing with him...he simply outruns everybody including his team mates. I would add some perspective about passing though. When LS has the ball he is looking to score and that area is usually very congested so he's on a razor thin margin for error when's trying to dish the ball to someone else. I think it is natural that more of those passes will be intercepted or toed away than someone in the middle of the pitch with more space to work with. I do think he needs to work a little better with DS though. I think they both need to use each other more because that forces defenders to cover them equally and the simple mathematics of that mean more opportunities for both...not less.

  21. Goal or assist every 59 minutes this season.

    We can all improve at everything but seriously he is ONLY the 3rd best player in the world!!!

    High standards indeed :)

    We have been the 5th to 8th best team on the PL for years now. We have been through utter calamity under Hicks and Gillett, almost went bust, and somehow came out on top after selling Torres..... How do we deserve to have players in top 100 in the world let alone the 3rd best?

    Wake up Barnes, it's not 1988

  22. PS. Passing stats, and in fact most stats, apart from goalkeeper saves, goals, assists and goal scoring chances created, can be very misleading.

    How many of Messi's passes are 2 yard triangle passes? Watch Barca hold possession and frustrate opposition, toying with them

    Suarez tries to make things happen, plays riskier passes, plays more crosses etc.

    John Obi Mikel had 89% accuracy last year, but what does it actually mean?

  23. we bought charli adam and downing and allen the strength of stats ,,,i rest my case

  24. The guy CLEARLY says ball retention. That is not only passing accuracy. He even spells it out in the quote when he says "he tries so much impossible things". All true. Decision making. Sometimes its down to players around him but still. The truly great plays take those somewhat calculated risk. Think Messi would try to meg a guy on byline a 100% of the time? Look how Ronaldo only tries in isolated situation. When he has that guy on the back-foot, he's going to kill him with something. Not always. When he first came to England, he was too selfish/flashy. Alex Ferguson changed that.. I'm not really complaining right now because of our squad. I'll say this though, If we had had better squad and he was doing those things he would take a lot out of the teams.

  25. AndWithSuchSimplicity12:24 am, November 13, 2013

    His conversion rate 'WAS' historically poor. Not this season, though. The Arsenal game aside he has been clinical and devastating. You only have to look at Gerrard starting to celebrate whilst lying on the floor because he KNEW Luis was going to tuck away that 4th goal on Saturday.....

  26. Yeah, sure. I"ll do that once we hit 19 games.

    Sent from Samsung Mobile

    -------- Original message --------

  27. Haven't really thought about it this way, playing Chelsea and City at the end could be a blessing in diguise but I dont think those extra games would matter as both of them have already qualified for next round in CL and would not field a strong team.
    Does anyone else feel that Chelsea's squad is not as strong as it is made out to be? I feel it is quite imbalanced as they have got a very good attacking midfield but an average strike force and average midfield '2' behind them. Their defence is decent.
    Man City have got the most balanced squad but Silva's injury could really hurt them and they could be left behind.
    So in terms of squad and players all the top 6 have got some issue or the other and I feel it will come down to performance and preparation on the day and I fell LFC are lucky to have one of the best coaches(BR) in the country.
    Exciting times!

  28. Weird how two of the better strikers in the league have issues with ball retention, Rooney and Suarez. But for different reasons, Suarez likes to try almost nigh-on impossible things and Rooney seems to lose it even in such basic moments, such is his flawed touch. I guess these almost-impossible things is what makes Suarez entertaining. Although I feel it is what partially makes him not one of my top 5 players in the world, it is definitely partially why he is one of the most entertaining players out there.

    He works hard enough as it is, so I got no issue with him in that regard. Asking him to work even harder may have impact on his overall game as a forward, better or worse, as you still want him to remain in advanced areas most of the time, instead of hunting to deep areas a lot. A brilliant work rate is a nice bonus to have but not the be all and end all

  29. I wonder how many, if any, of those seasons were as competitive as this season at this stage. As some seasons it was the just usual suspects winning and challenging for the title, so I wonder what it was like after 11 games.

  30. You make a valid point there. Historically, his conversion rate is poor.

    It's definitely improved this season.

  31. Barnes misses the point that as a top striker in a sometimes dire squad Suarez is always the object of attention for many defenders and mid-fielders - inevitably therefore, he will have the ball taken from him from time to time. I would love to know what is the ball retention of the rest of the LFC squad and their pass accuracy before passing judgment. Thank you.