After watching teammate Luis Suarez torment Norwich City with four goals of supreme technique on Wednesday, Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard predicted that the No. 7 could soon rival Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo among the world’s best.
The Uruguayan produced a virtuoso performance against the Canaries at Anfield, notching with a 40-yard volley, an agile finish from a corner, a dribble and long-range drive, and finally a precise free-kick.
In 2013-14 so far, the Reds’ No.7 has struck 13 times in just nine Barclays Premier League appearances — at least two more than any other player in the division despite missing the opening five games.
Such numbers stack up favourably alongside La Liga superstars Messi and Ronaldo — considered by most to currently be the two greatest players in world soccer — and Gerrard believes Suarez has the potential to emulate their achievements.
“You have seen a world-class performance, probably one of the best individual performances I’ve seen at Anfield — and I’ve been playing here a long time,” he told Liverpoolfc.com following the 5-1 win. “Having worked with him every single day, it’s probably less of a surprise to me as it is to the supporters. I’ve been pushing his corner for a long time that he is up there with the best in the world.
“I think he’s getting so close to the main two, Ronaldo and Messi. If he keeps going, I think he can catch them. His fourth goal was average and it was a 30-yard free-kick, so I think that sums his performance up.”
The Reds’ convincing victory over Norwich provided an immediate and ideal response to the disappointing defeat by Hull City on Sunday, allowing Brendan Rodgers‘ team to consolidate fourth place.
“That’s what the manager asked for — a big reaction,” the skipper reflected . “It was a bad few days after Hull, everyone was down and we weren’t proud of the performance.
“We let ourselves down. There have been a couple of occasions this season that we have done it and come unstuck. One was Southampton at home and one was Hull away.
“Hopefully there are not too many more. At home against the teams lower down the league we have been ruthless and that’s what we showed tonight. We were ruthless from the first minute.
“It was all about the reaction tonight and the three points. We’re really pleased but we’ve got to match that again against West Ham or tonight is pointless. We have been really good at home, for the majority of games we have been superb.
“There was only Southampton where we haven’t turned up. If we keep performing to that level, we can make Anfield a fortress — if you want to be successful in this league, you’ve got to make your home ground a fortress.”
Gerrard was highly unfortunate not to increase his goals tally for the campaign during the closing minutes at Anfield, as his improvised flick towards the net cruelly bounced away off the woodwork.
He nevertheless racked up another assist, though, creating Suarez’s second strike with a neat flick-on from a first-half corner — courtesy of a piece of direction given to him by the manager.
On hitting the post, the No. 8 added: “I can’t claim that I meant that, to be honest. Philippe tried to put me through and I just swung my leg at it and got a bit of luck — I thought it was going to creep in, it would have been nice.
“If I don’t take the corners, the manager asks me to attack the near post — I got a little bit of a flick on it, so I’m claiming the assist on that one.
“We have been deadly at set-pieces this year. We need to continue that, a lot of goals are scored in this league from set-pieces. We’re really pleased with that.”