Is Luis Suarez the favourite for Ballon d’Or 2016?

Luis Suarez’s numbers look incredible this season. In 49 games across the Spanish league, the Champions League and the Copa del Rey, he has gone on to score 53 goals and provided a further 25 assists to his team-mates. That is a direct involvement in 78 goals. Humongous!

Those are staggering numbers for any forward in any era. In his 32 league games, the striker has scored 34 goals to become the leading goalscorer in the Spanish league and the frontrunner to bag his first Pichichi trophy – given to the top goalscorer in the Spanish league.

Suarez’s form has been consistent throughout as he has scored eight goals and provided four assists from nine games in the Champions League. He has five goals and one assist in the Copa del Rey – he will have a chance to increase that number when Barcelona play Sevilla in the final of the domestic cup competition on 21st May at the Vicente Calderon.

The Uruguay international struck five times, which included a hat-trick and a brace, in two games in the Club World Cup to help Barcelona win the trophy for a record third time in their history. A goal and an assist each in the one-off European Super Cup helped Barcelona to a 5-4 win as they collected their first trophy of the season.

This year, he also returned from his long international ban, following a biting incident on Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup, to help Uruguay to a 2-2 draw against Brazil away from home.

All these numbers point to just one thing: Luis Suarez is having possibly the best season of his life.

In the prevailing circumstances, he should be a strong contender to land the Ballon d’Or for the best footballer in Europe when the award ceremony is held in Zurich next January.

Team trophies play an important role in the voting for the Ballon d’Or and Barcelona are still in the race for two important ones. Having squandered an 11-point lead in the league, they have made the race very tight, but the Catalans still hold the advantage. If they manage to grab all nine points from their remaining three games then they would be retaining the title they won last season. However, any slip-up would be detrimental to their title ambitions.

And certainly, Suarez is making sure that no such thing happens. The 29-year-old has been in superlative form in the last two games for Barcelona having contributed an unprecedented four goals each in consecutive games as well as three assists. He also became the only player in the history of Spanish football to be involved in seven goals in a single game as he assisted thrice along with his four goals in the 8-0 thrashing of Deportivo La Coruna at the Riazor last week.

Suarez will get a big chance to swing the votes in his favour when he leads Uruguay’s attack at the centenary edition of the Copa America in the United States later this year.

Uruguay are leading the 2018 World Cup qualifying table in CONMEBOL and will be among the favourites to win the Copa America, and if that were to happen it is hard to see Suarez not taking home the prestigious Ballon d’Or.

Can Luis Suarez win Ballon d’Or 2017?

Luis Suarez Book Coverjpg

An incredible 2015/16 Season

Luis Suarez at the end of 2015/16 had done some incredible things. Winning La Liga with Barcelona, being picked in the ESM Team of the Season 2015-16, and of course, winning the ESM Golden Shoe award with 80 points. Ahead of Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli who had 72 points. Cristiano Ronaldo only came in third with 70 points. Suarez scored an incredible 40 goals in the season. Messi ‘only’ scored 26 goals in the 2015/16 season.

But, is this enough to win the Ballon D’Or. Alex Ferguson has talked about in his book Leading that only two players playing currently are world class – Ronaldo and Messi. If you look at the Ballon D’Or awards over the last few years they definitely bear this out.

But is it enough for Suarez to win the Ballon D’Or?

So could Suarez win the FIFA Ballon D’Or instead of the big two? What has he done in 2016 and could he do to win this award? Well of course there was the incredible first half of the season with Barcelona and La Liga plus the Golden Shoe. However unlike Ronaldo he didn’t win the Champions League. And unlike Messi, he didn’t reach the Copa America Final let alone win it.

Unless he performs miracles in the rest of the season, it is hard to envisage him winning. Surely, Ronaldo with the Champions League and already some success at Euro 2016 in the trunk not to mention loads of goals as ever, he is in pole position. And Messi must surely be in second place with the La Liga title and a place in yet another Copa America Final narrowly missing out on the title.

And maybe the Ballon D’Or award may be what drives Messi to come back to the World Cup 2018 where the world needs him to go for it.

Some Previous History of Suarez and the Ballon D’Or

Barcelona gave an outstanding recital of attacking football during their 6-1 demolition of Celta Vigo in a La Liga fixture on Valentine’s Day. Luis Suarez ended the game with a hat-trick of goals and a brace of assists. Suarez’s third goal was scored after Lionel Messi stepped up to take a penalty, but instead of slotting it past the goalkeeper, he laid it for the Uruguayan who did the needful to grab his third goal of the game.

A curious thing happened at Real Madrid’s pre-match press conference ahead of the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 clash – that took place in the midweek following Barcelona’s trouncing of Celta Vigo – against AS Roma. Real Madrid forward and three-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, who accompanied club manager Zinedine Zidane at the briefing, said that he knew why Messi passed the ball to Suarez for the spot kick, but refused to divulge any further details.

Ronaldo’s comments have been construed to imply that Messi gave Suarez the ball to ensure that the former Liverpool forward remains ahead of the Portugal national team skipper in the race to claim the Pichichi for being the top scorer in La Liga this season.

With 25 matches of the league campaign already played, Suarez is leading the Pichichi chart with 25 goals from his 24 appearances. Meanwhile, Ronaldo lies second with his return of 22 goals from 25 games. Suarez is also leading the Portuguese skipper in the assist table, having set up 13 strikes for his teammates to Ronaldo’s eight.

Luis Suarez - My Story: Crossing the Line

In short, Ronaldo’s fear that Suarez might take the Pichichi and ultimately the European Golden Shoe – both the awards Ronaldo won last season – is a very likely possibility. Any implication that Messi laid the ball for Suarez to ensure the fact is highly dubious, as Neymar has come out and said that the ball was actually meant for him and not the 29-year-old.

However, Suarez might just be eyeing something even bigger than the Pichichi and the European Golden Shoe: he may just collect the Ballon d’Or come January 2017 for the 2016 season.

The prolific forward finished fifth in 2015’s voting for the Ballon d’Or where Messi took home the gong for an unprecedented fifth time in his career. Ronaldo, Neymar and Robert Lewandwoski were the three players that followed Messi in the voting. And behind them, in fifth, was Suarez.

This campaign, apart from his league heroics, Suarez has also netted five goals and registered one assist in the Copa del Rey. He has also amassed five Champions League goals and three assists, meaning he is enjoying an extremely successful campaign even by his high standards.

Barcelona have already reached the final of the Copa del Rey. They sit pretty at the top of La Liga standings, having built up a substantial eight-point gap over second-placed Atletico Madrid. And look set to reach the quarter-final of the Champions League after taking a 2-0 lead from the first leg of their round of 16 tie against Arsenal.

The club are in contention to repeat their success from last season and take home another treble.