Even in personal triumph, Luis Suarez remains a player that polarises opinion. Within moments of the Liverpool forward being named the PFA Player of the Year, the question was being asked: is he a flat-track bully?
Despite an astonishingly prolific season of 30 goals in 31 matches, plus 12 assists to help the Reds to the top of the Premier League table, one glaring statistic remains – in six games against Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal he has failed to score once.
The timing of Sunday night’s ceremony at Grosvenor House in London couldn’t have emphasised the point any better as it came hours after Suarez, along with the rest of the Liverpool side, huffed and puffed against Chelsea at Anfield.
However, while it’s possible to pick holes in Suarez’s season no individual has had more of an effect on his team’s fortunes.
Eden Hazard – the PFA Young Player of the Year – and Yaya Toure are considerable forces for Chelsea and Manchester City but are surrounded with team-mates of equal stature and similar influence.
There is also the consideration that Chelsea and Manchester City were expected to be challenging for the title this season, Liverpool, who finished seventh last year, were not.
Such was the pessimism surrounding their chances of securing top-four football, Suarez publicly requested a transfer. Had it gone through, he would be currently battling for fourth place with Arsenal.
Instead, it marks a remarkable transformation from pariah to the league’s top player, as Suarez missed the first five games of this term as he finished his 10-match ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic.
Suarez said: “The Premier League is full of really great players and so it is a great honour when these players recognise your work on the pitch.
“I always try my best for the team and it is nice to get awards but really this is for my team-mates and the staff at Liverpool because without their help I wouldn’t have this prize.”