His diving and outbursts grate but for football reasons Suárez deserves a nomination alongside Eden Hazard, Steven Gerrard, Adam Lallana, Daniel Sturridge and Yaya Touré
Presenting player of the year awards before the season has reached its most important stage is a lot like tipping a taxi driver before he has finished explaining how to right society's wrongs, but that's how it is and there's nothing we can do about it here. All we can do now is discuss whether the players have picked the right people on the shortlist for the Professional Footballers' Association's award. The answer is yes. Well, Luis Suárez is on the list and that's the main thing.
There was a fear that Suárez would be shunned by his peers on the grounds that he can be a frightful coot. His diving and ill-judged outbursts certainly grate but judge him solely on his footballing performances and the Uruguayan is a natural wonder on a par with a clicking porpoises and gnashing tigers. Suárez can take your breath away.
The statistics are eloquent even if they tell only half the story: 29 goals in 29 Premier League matches is an excellent return and the perfect reaction to being banned at the start of the season and spending much of the summer agitating for a move away from Anfield. Liverpool showed him love and shackles and he has responded by leading their sensational charge for the title. He scores all types of goals, from the mundane to the almost supernatural, and he creates chances for his team-mates and havoc in opposing defences with a unique blend of finesse and chaos. Sometimes his moaning must irritate his team-mates but most of the time his ferocious competitiveness – the very personification of la garra charrúa – inspires them.
Suárez has not got Liverpool to the brink of the title by himself. Indeed, against the toughest opponents he has tended not to score, even though he has played well. When Suárez has not scored, Daniel Sturridge has often stepped in. Brendan Rodgers describes the duo as two soloists playing together rather than a partnership, and a part of the manager's success this season has been to devise a system in which both players can express their distinctive skills. Sturridge has improved hugely, the three decisive goals he scored in Liverpool's first three matches of the campaign giving an early indication that he had added greater reliability to his ineffable creativity. He has become England's best striker.
Steven Gerrard is not included as some Ryan Giggs-style lifetime achievement award. He is there on merit. In the twilight of his career he has adapted his role to become even more influential. Given his barnstorming past, it was by no means certain that he possessed the patience and thoughtfulness to orchestrate Liverpool's play from the base of midfield but he has risen to the task with elan and, what's more, his quietly seething focus has been key to keeping Liverpool on track for the title as the tension has mounted in the last month.
Only two other players in the league have the same big-bang creativity as Suárez, the capacity to create something amazing out of nothing. They are Sergio Agüero, whose claim for the PFA award was sabotaged by injury, and Eden Hazard. The Belgian has often been brilliant for Chelsea but, despite progress under the demands of José Mourinho, he still has a tendency to drift out of games. With more consistency he could become a great. Adam Lallana cannot be accused of lacking consistency: he has shone continually throughout the season for Southampton and, despite the flourishes of David Silva, been the best player in his position in the league. Who knows whether he has changed since he was capped by England? What is for sure is that he can change England.
It is a pity that Yohan Cabaye left the party halfway through, and not just for Newcastle United, but the player most conspicuous by his absence from the shortlist is the person who has been the best centre-back in the league this season. Maybe that reflects an understandable bias towards creative players. Or perhaps factors besides playing ability did come into the reckoning, after all. Unlucky, John Terry.
Other defenders whose excellence might have been recognised were Seamus Coleman, Sylvain Distin, Laurent Koscielny and César Azpilicueta, whose excellence has been demonstrated by the total lack of fuss about the phasing out of Ashley Cole. Meanwhile, amid a wretched season for Manchester United, David de Gea could claim to have been the best goalkeeper, though Cardiff City's David Marshall has also impressed.
Aaron Ramsey would likely have been in the running for the overall award if he had not been hobbled by injury but his superb performances in the first half of the campaign have not been forgotten and he is a contender for the PFA's young player of the year award, for which Hazard and Sturridge are also competing.
As is Raheem Sterling, another Liverpool player who has improved and redefined himself as the season progressed, having matured into so much more than a devastating winger. Luke Shaw plays with wisdom and solidity beyond his years, his toughness, composure and precision suggesting he is set for a long career at the top. As is Ross Barkley, though he has been used more sparingly by his manager this season. And if Phil Jagielka had been injured earlier in the campaign, John Stones would surely have made the list.
Steven Gerrard, Eden Hazard, Adam Lallana, Daniel Sturridge, Luis Suárez, Yaya Touré
Ross Barkley, Eden Hazard, Aaron Ramsey, Luke Shaw, Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge