Suazo justifies the swagger

AP

The 28-year-old Chilean striker, Humberto Suazo, on a six-month loan deal from Mexican champions C.F. Monterrey has revitalised a Zaragoza side that was languishing at the foot of La Liga when he joined, writes Adam Calverley.

Chilean striker Humberto Suazo is certainly making a name for himself, loudly overcoming a disastrous start to become arguably Spain's revelation of the January transfer window since joining Real Zaragoza.

The 28-year-old, on a six-month loan deal from Mexican champions C.F. Monterrey, clearly did not lack any confidence on his arrival to Spain's Primera Division. “Real Zaragoza have very good players and I did not hesitate to join at any time. It's nice to get the opportunity to fulfil a dream,” he proclaimed. “I'm no saviour, I will try to contribute what I know, and hopefully start in good shape and make a major contribution to the team. Technically I am good and can score goals with both feet and I think the main thing is my positioning in the field. I'm going to blow the match (his debut) apart, you'll see: bim-bam, goal!” he declared ahead of his first start due to come against bottom club Xerez.

However, Suazo's initiation was a disaster.

Nothing went right for the Andean striker as he wheezed his way slowly around the pitch before being replaced by Liverpool cast-off Jermaine Pennant. The disappointment led to fans labelling him “fat” and one television station broadcasting a replay of his performance with a cartoon music accompaniment.

Times have changed, though, and he has now won the admiration and acclaim of fans and journalists alike. Suazo has revitalised a Zaragoza side that was languishing at the foot of La Liga when he joined. Only Real Madrid, Barcelona and Almeria have picked up more points than the Blanquillos in the second half of the season — Suazo's five goals in 13 games have helped their plight.

The 1.71-metre striker started his career with his home town team Club Torino, the side his father had played for. After a slow start to his career, ‘El Chupete', translated as ‘The Pacifier', found his feet at San Luis Quillota, where he netted 40 goals in as many games in the Chilean third division.

Audax Italiano was next on his list of employers following a move in 2004 and the striker continued to build upon his burgeoning reputation with an impressive goal ratio that became the talk of South America. In 2006, 46-time Chilean title winners Colo-Colo were persuaded to fork out over GBP500,000 on the nation's hottest property and were not left disappointed by their investment as Suazo wrote himself into Los Albos folklore by finishing as the top goalscorer in the 2007 Apertura tournament.

Indeed, he was the world's top goal scorer of the year in 2006 according to the IFFHS, Mexican Footballer of The Year in 2009 and top scorer in South America's 2010 World Cup qualification campaign with 10 goals as Chile finished second behind Brazil.

The tempestuous frontman eventually left Chile in a GBP2.5million move to Mexican club Monterray in June 2007. Disagreements with team mates and a slow start meant an unhappy start to his Mexican adventure, and Suazo was linked with Argentine club Independiente.

But once again the striker rejuvenated his tumultuous career, going on to secure a club record by scoring four goals in one match and was named the best player in the league, before finally making the move to Europe.

Zaragoza have the option to buy Suazo for 10million Euros at the end of this season and if he continues to impress, it is likely manager Jose Aurelio Gay will take a punt if allowed. However, if the controversy and errors that have littered his career so far re-emerge, it is implausible that the debt-ridden Spaniards will be reaching into their pockets.

Lazio, Sunderland and Everton have expressed their interest in Suazo in the past and may be buoyed by his goalscoring record and Zaragoza's financial instability. A decent showing at the World Cup when Chile play against Spain, Honduras and Switzerland in Group H may mean English Premier League fans could witness much more of ‘The Pacifier's' predatory habits next season.

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