Atleti’s Suarez nets landmark 500th career goal

Luis Suarez has joined the elite group of players to have scored 500 or more goals for club and country after finding the net for Atletico Madrid in the La Liga match with Alaves on Sunday.

Suarez, 34, joined Atletico on a free transfer from Barcelona last September and only Lionel Messi has scored more goals this season in Spain than the Uruguay international.

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The veteran’s goals have fired Diego Simeone’s team to the top of the La Liga table, leading his former teammates at Barca and local rivals Real Madrid.

Among active players, only the heavyweight quartet of Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robert Lewandowski rank ahead of Suarez in the all-time goalscoring charts.

A stellar career has seen the striker win a string of individual and collective prizes, including four La Liga titles, a Champions League and four Copa del Rey trophies. He won the Copa America with Uruguay in 2011 and is also his country’s record scorer, with 63 goals, ahead of Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan.

Suarez emerged at Nacional in Uruguay before moving to Europe at the age of 19 in 2007 with Groningen of the Eredivisie. A season there was enough to convince Ajax to sign him, and Suarez went on to captain the Dutch giants in a three-year spell that saw him become the league’s outstanding player. Suarez bagged a total of 81 Eredivisie goals for Ajax, 35 of them in 2009-10, a record for a foreign player in the Netherlands.

After he signed for Liverpool in 2011, he was the Premier League‘s top scorer in 2013-14, scoring 31 goals in 33 games as Liverpool challenged for the title. He also shared the European Golden Boot with Ronaldo.

Suarez moved to Barca for €81 million in 2014 and formed a lethal attacking trident with Messi and Neymar that saw the club win the La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League treble in his first season. Suarez outscored both Messi and Ronaldo in 2015-16 with 40 league goals to win his second European Golden Boot.

He is the only player other than Messi and Ronaldo to be crowned La Liga’s “Pichichi” or top scorer in the last decade.

Suarez was deemed surplus to requirements by Barca and new coach Ronald Koeman last summer as the club looked to rebuild following the 8-2 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich.

He has proved his critics wrong at Atletico so far, and broke Cristiano Ronaldo’s record for the best scoring start by a La Liga player in the 21st century by grabbing 16 goals in his first 17 games.