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Barcelona-Malaga: What to Do About Luis Suarez?

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He missed a key chance today but the coach reaffirmed his faith in the striker

Barcelona v Malaga - La Liga Photo by Alex Capaeros/Getty Images

Luis Suarez missed a sitter in another uneven performance, but FC Barcelona managed to beat Malaga 2-0 with goals from Gerard Deulofeu and Andres Iniesta.

The striker seemed angry at himself, again, at his own performance. He had ripped his shirt in frustration after missing a shot against Las Palmas, and today he stormed off when he was substituted for Paco Alcacer.

Despite his run of form being questioned, Suarez has 3 goals and 1 assist in 6 La Liga games, a pretty decent return to say the least. In the press conference, his coach, Ernesto Valverde, insisted he had faith in his player. So long as he’s getting in good positions to score, Valverde said, he’s not too worried about it.

But Suarez himself does seem concerned, because things that seemed to come so naturally are not coming off like they used to.

Is his coach partly to blame? In putting Lionel Messi back in the middle, Valverde has unleashed the Argentine. Any time you help Messi get to his mercurial best, you are doing the right thing. But a side effect is Suarez is shackled on the left wing, where he seems somewhat unsure.

Still, that doesn’t totally explain why Suarez has struggled. But it surely must play a part, right? He’s losing confidence and not feeling right when he’s out there.

Valverde’s challenge is to get Suarez back to the killer mindset, where everything comes off. If that happens, we may laugh off these early season wobbles as simple growing pains as the team tries to fit into Valverde’s vision.

That, or he has to ponder whether Barcelona’s future has a more natural left-winger flanking Messi, and not Suarez. That isn’t easy either. Finding a player who is as productive as Suarez - remember, even off form he piles them on - is hard enough. But consider his friendship with Messi, how respected and well liked he is, and how much of a heavyweight presence he is in the locker room. Of course, even Suarez is not untouchable, but it still means that’s one big call to make.

Either option isn’t easy, but Valverde has managed for a long time, and it’s not without reason he has gotten such a big job. This is another way he can continue to show he’s a top manager.