Upon his unveiling at Gremio in January 2023, Luis Suarez offered a warning to those expecting the Ballon d’Or-botherer to score 100 goals and win an Amazonian beauty contest every single game.
“I am not the Luis Suarez of 2015, 2016 or 2013,” the former Ajax, Liverpool and Barcelona striker said. “I’m not, that’s obvious. I am not stupid.
“I am not going to run 50 metres, because I am not that player anymore. But maybe with my movement 50 metres from goal, my team-mates can benefit, because it is a team game.
“What I am going to promise is compromise, camaraderie, attitude, hunger and goals.”
What Suarez didn’t promise was scoring absolute thunderb*stards with the regularity of a Gordon Ramsey profanity. And we’re very much here for it.
As Porto Alegre staged a fierce cross-city derby between Gremio and Internacional, with fans treating the occasion as an extension of carnival, the 36-year-old striker barely touched the ball during a chaotic first five minutes.
That all changed when Suarez received a pass on the left flank. Ambling forward, like a rambler walking off the effects of a Sunday lunch, the world-class menace rode one challenge but found his path to goal blocked by another Internacional defender.
Mere mortals would have looked to lay the ball off to a team-mate in this scenario, but Suarez had mischief on his mind. Shaping to pass to the left winger, he turned his opponent inside out like a pair of gym shorts and found himself with a clear shot at goal.
After the genius of its creation, the cruel footballing gods were tempted to induce a mole-murdering trickle of a shot from Suarez.
Happily, they stood by while the Uruguay international thumped the ball into the postage stamp. Gremio’s 3-1 victory had been ordained.
As Suarez wheeled away with arms outstretched, perhaps reckoning his heavenly effort could see him alight to the clouds, the Gremio fans lost their collective sh*t. We can hardly blame them.
— siga @GremioInsider (@gremixsta) May 21, 2023
Asked whether joining Gremio represented the biggest challenge of his career back in January, Suarez told the club’s media channels: “It could be, but I can also compare it with my time at Atletico Madrid.
“I won the league with Atletico when Real Madrid and Barcelona dominated football in Spain. This one might be even more difficult, but I am convinced we have an incredible team and a coach that does things well and that has a great influence. I always liked challenges.
“Coming to a club with so much history, a great club from Brazil, always gives you hope.
“For a team to come from Serie B and want to fight with the best in Brazilian football is a very nice challenge, for Grêmio to return to where it deserves to be, among the teams that go to the Copa Libertadores, to be fighting up there and creating a good team.”
With his satisfying desire to populate the entire Goal of the Season shortlist with his own efforts, we’re just glad that Suarez is using the autumn of his career to bring us joy and wonder with such consistency.
By Michael Lee