Sunday 27 November 2016, 19:12

Rodgers: Nobody has been better than Suarez this year

Brendan Rodgers has lauded Lionel Messi but reckons Luis Suarez warrants The Best FIFA Men’s Player 2016 award.

In February, the 29-year-old became the first player in La Liga history to score four goals in back-to-back games. He then hit a hat-trick, as Barcelona beat Granada 3-0 on the final day to pip Real Madrid to the Spanish title, finishing as the 40-goal Pichichi recipient in the process. Suarez has also netted three times in eight FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers this year, including goals that secured Uruguay draws in Brazil and Colombia.

“The last year, I don’t think there’s been any player better than Luis Suarez,” Rodgers told Sky Sports. “In terms of that award, I think he would be very deserving of it in terms of how he’s played, what he’s given the team, how he’s carried the team, and the level that he’s played at consistently.

“Lionel Messi is a player that I’ve admired since I saw him as a young player, a teenager. I’ve seen him come into the team at 16,17, and the last ten years, he’s been remarkable.

“His quality and just the things he’s done in the game are magical. I’ve had the fortune to work with Luis, so I know first-hand his qualities, but they’re both brilliant players.”

Rodgers, who managed Suarez at Liverpool, has put his coaching acumen against the two-time and reigning European Golden Shoe winner twice this year. The former Nacional, Groningen and Ajax striker scored twice, as Barcelona battered Celtic 7-0 in their first meeting in Group C of the UEFA Champions League, and won a penalty, which Messi converted, in a 2-0 victory in the return match.

Messi and Suarez are among the 23 players hoping to win The Best FIFA Men’s Player 2016 award. 50 per cent of the vote will be determined by the head coaches and captains of the world’s national teams. The remaining 50 per cent will be split between an online public ballot, which has now concluded, and a selected group of 200-plus media representatives.

The winner will be crowned at The Best FIFA Football Awards™ ceremony in Zurich on 9 January 2017.