In a season that's seen him lead the Premier League in goals and generally produce some of the more impressive play in the country, Luis Suarez was always going to come in for some sort of accolades. Whether or not he'll win any--at least beyond Standard Chartered Player of the Month trophies--is another discussion, one that includes constant reminders of his character and reputation and the moral purity of those whose only discernible talent is suffocating self-righteousness.
Still, it's not really a surprise that Suarez has made the six-man shortlist for the PFA's Player of the Year award, joining Juan Mata, Gareth Bale, Robin van Persie, Michael Carrick, and Eden Hazard. Each have had solid to very good seasons in their own right; Carrick is probably the only surprise despite having one of his better seasons to date, while Mata and Hazard have been among Chelsea's best and van Persie and Bale have carried the goalscoring load for their respective squads at various points this season.
But maybe with the exception of Bale, no player has been as singularly influential as Suarez, who's carried Liverpool on his back--quite literally, Jamie Redknapp asks me to add--throughout a difficult season. Even when he's off he more on than most, and despite spending much of the fall as the lone attacking threat in a frighteningly thin Liverpool squad, he's yet to crumble, continuing his dominant form well into the new year.
Of late he hasn't been quite himself, or at least the version of himself that's left us breathless on so many occasions. Again, though, he's still dangerous even without finding the net, and there's no question that Liverpool are a far better squad with him than they are without him. That's true of all the others, of course, but the numbers and the sentiment indicate that only one man deserves to be the winner, and that's Luis Suarez.
Whether or not the sentiment for everyone else matches ours will likely turn out to be another story, and we can find comfort in convincing ourselves that awards don't really matter. But I get the sense that it would for Suarez, with maybe a little something extra included emotionally for a man who's found such a turbulent time in England since arriving.
We'll find out if Suarez is awarded the honor on April 28th, so in the meantime we'll have to see if Martin Samuel can champion the cause of everyman Michael Carrick and James Lawton can remind us of the limitless nature of Luis Suarez's diabolical intent.