Ernesto Valverde faces test to handle Luis Suarez situation, says Terry Gibson

Ernesto Valverde faces test to handle Luis Suarez situation, says Terry Gibson

Terry Gibson believes it will be “very important” how Ernesto Valverde deals with Luis Suarez as he continues to struggle for form at Barcelona.

Suarez has only scored three La Liga goals this season, with his last coming almost a month ago in a 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid.

Despite his struggles, the former Liverpool striker has continued to start for Barca as they have opened up a four-point lead at the top of the table.

But Gibson said on the La Liga Weekly Podcast: “I am interested to see how Valverde handles the Suarez situation, looking at the bigger picture.

“If he was to bench him or take him off in every game I don’t think we will see the best version of Luis Suarez. It’s interesting to see how an experienced manager handles a massive superstar when he is out form.

“We expect him to get his form back at some stage, with his all-round play and scoring goals on a regular basis, and that enhances Barcelona more than Paco Alcacer can.”

Reflecting on Suarez’s struggles this season, Gibson added: “I have been looking back and thinking at why Suarez has been struggling and I remembered about him picking up an injury in the Super Cup.

“It was the second leg with 10 minutes to go and he was clearly injured, and I made the point on commentary that they should have taken him off because the tie was over. But he stayed on because they had used all their substitutions.

“He then missed the first few weeks of the season and it has been a nagging injury that hasn’t gone away. He has been excused by Uruguay for their upcoming friendlies and there has been some talk of surgery on his knee, so you don’t want to be too critical of a player who is out of form.

“With Neymar leaving and [Ousmane] Dembele injured it is important that he has been out there.”

Watch highlights of Barcelona’s 2-1 victory over Sevilla

With both Suarez and Lionel Messi failing to score at the weekend, it was down to Alcacer to net both goals as Barcelona beat Sevilla 2-1.

Alcacer has found opportunities had to come by since his arrival from Valencia in 2016, but Gibson was impressed with his display on Saturday.

“Very rarely has he played in his right position and there were games last season when he did get opportunities and he didn’t make the most of them. That led to everyone writing him off,” he said.

“I think he is an accomplished striker and the type of striker who should flourish at Barcelona. He needs to be a poacher, get on the end of chances, and there will be plenty when you are playing up front for Barcelona.

“What surprised me at the weekend was his intelligence in playing in an unfamiliar position. I had him down as a striker who couldn’t play anywhere else, but he showed intelligence to perform two or three roles in one.”


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