Luis Suarez shines as Barcelona provider for Lionel Messi & Neymar

With just seven goals in his first 22 games for Barcelona, at first glance it appears former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez is struggling to adapt to life with his new club as he prepares for Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 first leg at Manchester City.

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Indeed, with just four goals from 15 La Liga appearances, in terms of scoring this has been the least productive domestic campaign of Suarez’s career.

But the numbers do not tell the full story. Suarez has actually rapidly established himself as a key member of a team who had won 11 consecutive games before Saturday’s shock 1-0 home defeat by Malaga.

Rather than his lack of goals, a more appropriate statistic to illustrate the 28-year-old’s first few months in Spain – and hint how his role has changed since he swapped Anfield for the Nou Camp – is the 12 assists he has provided for team-mates in all competitions.

This is a new Luis Suarez. The one-man goal machine who finished last season as the Premier League’s leading scorer by 10 clear goals has gone.

He has been replaced by a hard-working, selfless team player whose primary function is to service the considerable talents of his team-mates Lionel Messi and Neymar rather than find the back of the net himself.

And he is also playing a central part in an intriguing reinvention of one of football’s greatest teams.

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