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Suarez: Legend, or Pretender?

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Liverpool Echo columnist David Prentice has taken a stance on Luis Suarez that many will likely find controversial.

"Oh, you."
"Oh, you."
Clive Brunskill

David Prentice is not really afraid of stirring controversy, having penned a number of columns in the past that have raised an uproar. Today, though, he's taken a shot at the status of one of Liverpool's current stars, and it's almost certain to not be a popular opinion.

The stellar performances of one Luis Suarez this season have started to bring up discussions of his status as a potential Liverpool legend. Fifteen goals in ten matches is a good way to kick-start that discussion, and an Anfield career-so-far of 65 goals and 35 assists in 107 matches with the club is a pretty strong argument to make in his favor. Given that he's wearing the legendary number seven shirt, and with Kenny Dalgish's blessing no less, certainly adds credence to his cause.

Not so fast, though, according to Prentice:

Legends come along once in a lifetime – and for a sport which has existed in something approaching its present form for little more than a century, there can realistically only be a handful of claimants to "greatest of all-time" status.

Which is why the current ‘debates’ about Luis Suarez ’s claims to be one of the greatest players in Liverpool ’s history are baseless.

[...]

To be considered an all-time great you need longevity, you need history, you need season after season of adoration from the fans – and the ability to inspire a team to a trophy or two helps as well.

Prentice raises a good point about longevity; Suarez is currently just shy of his third anniversary at the club, and as this summer showed, the potential for him to leave the club will never be low. However, Prentice saying that Suarez is "no better than" Fernando Torres to the club's history seems wide of the mark. Torres was certainly a big facet of the club during his time in Liverpool, and formed a tremendous partnership with Steven Gerrard, but Suarez is already coming near Torres' goal total, and has had simply herculean performances for the club, often putting them on his back and pulling them along in ways that we rarely saw Torres able to do.

I personally don't think that Suarez is a full-bore legend just yet, but to dismiss his case out of hand as Prentice seems to is needlessly harsh. The Uruguayan has certainly done a fair bit to turn fans against him with how he's earned his various suspensions, but what he's given to the club far outweighs that. He may not be on the level of Ian Rush and John Barnes just yet, much less Gerrard and Dalglish, but if he stays at the club, he's going to be in that conversation a whole lot sooner rather than later.