The life and times of Luis Suarez in Amsterdam

Written by David Kraakman for AjaxDaily.com

On many occasions, the Dutch league has been the first step to glory in the old continent for South Americans. Ronaldo and Romario, for example, enjoyed some great times with PSV Eindhoven before conquering the world stage. Ajax, as well, have had their fair share of exotic players. From Maxwell to Mauro Rosales, the Godenzonen had some great South Americans. There’s one who stands out above all, though, and his name is Luis Suárez.

The world class player you see now, was still a raw talent when playing in Holland. One of his biggest qualities back then, and still is now, was his unpredictability. Europe first laid eyes on Suárez when he was picked up by FC Groningen in the summer of 2006. Suárez, at the time 19 years old, was a loose cannon. Overweight and acts of rage when he was substituted, dominated the first three to six months of his career in Holland.

His ability as a player, however, quickly came to the surface and also led to interest from other clubs with one of these clubs being Ajax. Suárez made up his mind ever since Ajax was mentioned and wanted to move to the Dutch capital. Initially, Groningen weren’t allowing Suárez to leave but a fee of €8M eventually saw the Uruguayan join the Dutch record champions.

At Ajax, Suárez developed himself into the best player of the country. In his first two years the forward impressed and was amongst the top players in the Eredivisie but it wasn’t until the 2009/2010 season that the forward blew everyone away. With the captain’s band around his arm, Suárez scored a staggering 49 goals in all competitions for Ajax.

This kind of form resulted in a Uruguay call-up for the World Cup 2010 in South Africa and it was at that tournament that Suárez introduced himself on the international stage. His goal preventing handball versus Ghana might’ve struck everybody’s imagination, but his three goals and great form for his country at the World Cup really caught the eye of many scouts.

For Ajax fans it was, on one hand, a joy to see their star player be one of the sensations of the tournament. On the other hand, a move away from the Amsterdam Arena to a bigger league was now inevitable. Suárez decided to stay another six months until Liverpool came calling in January 2011, who bought El Pistolero for €26.5M.

Suárez left Ajax in a bit of a controversial situation, having received a seven-game match ban for biting PSV player Otman Bakkal in an Eredivisie game. Besides the fuss Suárez did cause in his time in Holland, he also brought quality into a league that was clearly lacking of it. His quality would later on in his career at Liverpool and Barcelona make him one of the world’s best players. A status, he himself has stated, is partly down to his education in Holland.

Multiple times since his departure from the club, Suárez has stated that at Ajax he developed into the footballer he is now. Both his technique and the tactical side of his game progressed in Amsterdam. The talent was always there but at Ajax, Suárez enjoyed the best education possible and gave him a better shot at succeeding at Liverpool and Barcelona.

The Uruguayan, therefore, has recommended every South American youngster to first play in the Eredivisie before moving to wealthier leagues. Suárez also has openly spoken out his desire to once return to Holland to play for Ajax. If it will happen is not sure. One thing is, though, if he does return, he will be welcomed as a legend.

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