The race for the Golden Boot in the Dutch Eredivisie is as good as over with two months of the season still to play. Ajax striker Luis Alberto Suarez has hit 26 league goals in only 25 appearances this season making him one of the hottest properties in European football.
The 23 year old Uruguayan International started his career as a winger with Nacional in his homeland before moving to Holland to join FC Groningen in 2006. He scored 14 times in 35 appearances with them before switching to Ajax in a 7.5 million Euros transfer in the summer of 2007.
Suarez celebrates one of his 26 league goals this season.
Under coach Henk ten Cate, Suarez became a central striker and he repaid a large chunk of that transfer fee with 20 goals in his first season at the Amsterdam ArenA, where his partnership with Klass-Jan Huntelaar became one of the most feared in Europe.
The 2008-09 season was even better for Suarez as he struck 28 goals in all competitions, 22 of which came in the Eredivisie, second only to Golden Boot winner Mounir El-Hamdaoui of AZ Alkmaar. However despite his goals the club could only finish 3rd in the league and ten Cate was replaced at the helm by Marco van Basten.
When Huntelaar was sold to Real Madrid last summer even more of the goal scoring responsibility fell to Suarez but that did not seem to worry the Uruguayan as he began the season with a hat-trick against RKC Waalwijk and he has not looked back since. Among his many highlights this season have been four goal hauls against VVV Venlo and Roda JC in the Eredivisie while he also hit four against Slovan Bratislava in a Europa League qualifier back in August.
The only serious threat to Suarez for the Dutch Golden Boot this season is Bryan Ruiz of league leaders FC Twente, who currently stands on 17 goals. The Costa Rican International is another striker who began his career on the wing and he made his name in Belgium with Gent before joining Twente last summer.
FC Twente striker Bryan Ruiz in a familiar pose.
Now converted to a central striker the 24 year old has enjoyed a great first season with the club, scoring in ten consecutive games either side of Christmas to help Steve McClaren’s side to the top of the Championship. However he will need a similar run between now and the end of the season if he is to have any chance of catching Suarez who is currently nine goals ahead with only eight matches remaining.
Last seasons Golden Boot winner El-Hamdaoui was once on the books of Tottenham Hotspur although he never made a first team appearance for the club. He did however feature for Derby County on loan in the 2005-06 season and scored 3 times in 9 appearances before returning to his native Holland with Willam II.
But it was only after he joined Alkmaar in 2007 that his career really began to take off and he just pipped Suarez to the Golden Boot last season with 23 goals in 31 appearances. The 25 year old, who plays International football for Morocco, has once again enjoyed a fine season and his strike rate of 13 goals in 19 appearances is an impressive statistic but unfortunately it looks unlikely to be enough for him to retain the crown he won last year.
Young Swede Ola Toivonen of PSV Eindhoven is also currently on 13 league goals in his first full season at the club and the tall 23 year old striker could be one to watch next season. Meanwhile the only other players to reach double figures in the league so far are Bas Dost of Heracles and Mads Junker of Roda; who are both on 11, and Slovakian Tim Matavz of FC Groningen who is currently on 10.
Ola Toivonen cannot believe the Golden Boot has eluded him this season.
However all have been left in the slipstream of the free scoring Suarez who is now in the running to win the Golden Shoe award as the leading scorer in European football this season.
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