Luis Suarez isn't just on the form of his Liverpool career—he's on the form of his career, full stop. In a season that started with fans hopeful but uncertain when it came to a top four push, the striker's world class performances have changed the equation, and getting back into the Champions League is now the minimum expectation.
"It's very important because we know that in the last two years we haven't demonstrated that Liverpool can play in the Champions League," the striker told LFCTV. "Now we are playing very well and we have the level to play in the Champions League. We have really good players and if we continue at this level, we can do it."
His recent scoring form even has Suarez being talked about alongside Messi and Ronaldo as one of the best players in the world. If he keeps it up the rest of the season—setting a few scoring records along the way—and puts in a strong showing for Uruguay at the World Cup, it's hard to imagine a final three for next year's Ballon d'Or that doesn't include Suarez. On current form, he'd deserve to win it.
"When you are a child, you imagine a lot," added the Premier League's on-form attacker. "Now many people or players speak about that and it's unbelievable for me, and also for Liverpool, because in the last two or three years we have not played very well and not demonstrated our level. Now we are back to that."
For Liverpool, that level is being back in the thick of the top four race. For Suarez, it's getting back to the kind of scoring levels he last had at Ajax in the defensively suspect Eredivisie, where in his last full season he scored 35 goals in 33 league appearances. That season, 2009-10, was Suarez' best as he managed 1.06 goals per game and scored 45 in 45 starts in all competitions.
It was the kind of tally few expected Suarez could match in England, yet with 22 in 16 so far this year it's nearly impossible to imagine he won't set the record for goals in a 38-game season, currently held by Alan Shearer and Christiano Ronaldo with 31. He's likely to also beat the 34 goals scored by Shearer and Andrew Cole back when the season was 40 games.
Making Suarez' form look even more impressive, the highest strike-rate attained by any former Premier League Golden Boot winner was Ronaldo's 0.912 per game in 2007-08—the year he scored 31 times in 34 appearances. Suarez' strike-rate currently stands a faintly ridiculous 1.375. And though those numbers are important to him, Suarez insists winning is all that really matters in the end.
"You work hard for the supporters and [your friends and family]," he said. "It's important because the last few months were a little difficult for me. Now I've changed and it's okay. The squad is playing very well; for the forwards, it's easier. If I score or not, it's not important to me. It's more important that we win the game."
Liverpool fans will, perhaps naturally, always have a little nagging voice of doubt in the back of their minds wondering when I've changed goes flying out the window and the reviled Suarez of old rears up again, but no matter what the future holds, there's one thing that's hard to argue—right here and right now, there isn't a player in the world on better form.
One would have to go back to before the days of the Premier League for a time when Liverpool fans could last say that with a straight face. Might as well sit back and enjoy it, however long it lasts.
Addendum pulled from the comments: Looking at the best goalscoring seasons in the Premier League over the past ten years (unfortunately reliable shots totals are difficult to find for earlier seasons, making it hard to give the likes of Alan Shearer his due) finds four standout campaigns: Ronaldo's 31 goal 07-08 season, Thierry Henry's 30 goal 03-04 season, Robin van Persie's 30 goal 11-12 season, and Didier Drogba's 29 goals in 09-10.
So far this season, Luis Suarez' 22 league goals have come on 92 shots for a goal every 4.18 shots and 1.375 goals per game, putting Suarez much closer to Lionel Messi's 50 goal 11-12 La Liga campaign (50 goals on 198 shots for 3.96 shots per goal and 1.38 goals per game) than any of the Premier League's best goalscorers of the past decade were to Suarez in their most prolific seasons.
- Ronaldo's 31 goals came on 181 shots for a goal every 5.84 shots and 0.912 goals per game.
- Henry's 30 goals came on 171 shots for a goal every 5.7 shots and 0.81 goals per game.
- Van Persie's 30 goals came on 174 shots for a goal every 5.8 shots and 0.79 goals per game.
- Drogba's 29 goals came on 178 shots for a goal every 6.14 shots and 0.906 goals per game.