Luis Suárez and the surprising whistles from the Barcelona fans
In 2017, Suárez was being whistled and booed at the Camp Nou, and despite being the fifth top scorer in the club's history, questions continue from the stands.
It is true that Luis Suárez has not started the season well for Barcelona, but the whistles that were directed towards him from the Camp Nou stands when Ernesto Valverde replaced him with Ansu Fati in the 77th minute was surprising. The Uruguayan is the fifth top scorer in the history of Barcelona, with 179, only surpassed by legends such as Samitier (184), Kubala (194), César (232) and, of course, Messi (603), and in terms of effort and goals, few can argue with his output. With this understanding, there were a number of fans in the stadium that responded to the negativity with applause.
The curious whistling of slow-start Suárez
Most of us accept that football has little memory, but the continuous doubting of Suárez since his arrival from Liverpool in the 2014-15 season is, at least, curious. Due to the sanction placed on him for biting Chiellini, he could not make his debut until the end of October, in the 3-1 defeat at the Bernabéu to their bitter rivals. And during his first appearance at the Camp Nou, a shock 0-1 loss to Celta, there were already voices of discontent, many focusing on the player looking overweight. "Luis Suárez is not fat; he never was," then-manager Luis Enrique defended.
Suárez seems to have a hard time starting every campaign. In his incredible second season at Barça, 2015-16, in which he scored 59 official goals, only four of them came in his first six matches. Then he took off. In the 2017-18 season, the forward was whistled at the Camp Nou on 4 November in a match against Sevilla. At that time, he only had 3 goals as reward for the first 11 matchdays of LaLiga. His response was immediate; a double in Leganés in the next game, and 13 in nine days.
Last season, Suárez was also questioned. Three goals in the first eight league games had Valverde out defending his striker, just as he had done the previous year for his Champions League drought. Following that the Uruguayan signed off on one of his most memorable afternoons in a Barça shirt, notching a hat-trick against Los Blancos. Months later he was responsible for eliminating the capital rivals from the cup with a brace, plus an assist in Varane's own goal at the Bernabéu.
Closing the wound with supporters
His poor start this year, and clearly he's not the only one struggling, could be linked to the decision to go through with an operation following the 4-0 humiliation in Liverpool, one that was to have him ready for the Copa América. That left Barça without the striker in the Copa del Rey final (where Piqué ended up as the number nine) which they lost to Valencia. The fact is that this operation opened the latest wound between him and part of the fanbase, and Súarez now needs to close it once again.
Pushing on towards 33 years of age, Suárez will find it increasingly difficult to win another battle based on his goal return, but with 179 already in the bag, and a plethora of titles won for the club, it is still surprising that he continues to fight against the same noise every year.