Luis Suarez is in the same bracket as Messi and Ronaldo, says Oli Holt
Is Liverpool's Luis Suarez in the class of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo? Oliver Holt reckons so...
Last Updated: 29/12/13 1:01pm
Liverpool striker Suarez celebrated signing a new long-term contract at Anfield by netting twice in the 3-1 win over headline-making Cardiff, taking his tally of goals this season to 19 from 12 Premier League matches.
Daily Mirror writer Holt heaped praise on the Uruguayan on the Sunday Supplement, applauding the 26-year-old for moving on from his indiscretions - which included biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic - and becoming a huge influence on Liverpool's young guns.
"Suarez is fully deserving of the superlatives we are throwing at him and on current form it is hard to deny that he is up there with Messi and Ronaldo," said Holt.
"He has lots of their attributes and is a fantastic creator as well as a goal scorer, but as well as being a great player he is unselfish and playing for the team.
"I think he has paid the penalty for his sins, while after not getting a move away in the summer he has not sulked and has got on with things, and he is playing the best football he has played since he has been in England.
"So him being Liverpool captain does not denigrate that honour and if I voted now he would be my Player of the Season.
"But the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson are stepping up around him which is incredibly encouraging for Liverpool."
Suarez - who was handed an eight-game ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra in 2011, before being hit with a 10-game suspension for lashing out at Ivanovic - is now tied to Liverpool until the summer of 2018.
Times journalist Alyson Rudd reckons a hefty salary is one of the reasons the former Ajax and Groningen man has committed his future to the Merseysiders, but she also believes the forward enjoys the regard he is held in by the Reds fans.
"I think it helps if you feel you are being rewarded for the gorgeous and effective football you are playing," Rudd said of a player who has figured 71 times for his country and is likely to line up against England in next summer's World Cup.
"Players of Suarez's type, who are star performers and carrying teams, are quick to feel like they are not respected or being given their due, so now he feels like he is being respected and earning what he's worth.
"He is willing to give that love and respect back to the Liverpool fans who have stuck by him through all of the bad times, including the biting incident, the racism case, and the 'I want to go to Arsenal' rumours over the summer.
"He probably feels flattered by that and thinks: 'Liverpool are playing well and could make the Champions League, so why don't I just go for it and enjoy myself?'"
Is Suarez comparable to Ronaldo and Messi? Which of the three is best? Can Liverpool win the title with the goal-scoring Uruguayan? Let us know using the feedback form below...