Suárez — who finished fourth in the Ballon d’Or voting in 2016 while playing for Barcelona — is Atlético’s only nominee for the award, still regarded as one of football’s more-prestigious individual achievements. Club captain Koke, who had an outstanding calendar year for Atleti and the Spain national team, is nowhere to be found on the shortlist. The same goes for Jan Oblak, the best goalkeeper in the sport and LaLiga’s reigning player of the year (though Oblak has been nominated for the Yashin Trophy).
In his first season with Atlético, Suárez scored 21 goals in 32 league appearances and steered the side to its first league title since 2014. The Uruguayan passed the 500-goal plateau in March and retains an important place with his national team, which reached the Copa America quarterfinals over the summer. Despite his declining physical level, El Pistolero remains an outstanding finisher and a core player for Diego Simeone — he has scored five goals from nine appearances in 2021/22.
Suárez’s contract is up next summer, and he is free to begin negotiating with other clubs beginning Jan. 1. Atlético have been linked with younger forwards such as Lille’s Jonathan David, Fiorentina’s Dušan Vlahović, and River Plate Montevideo’s teenage sensation Matías Arezo. However — assuming he stays healthy and productive — the club seems open to renewing Suárez’s contract, even as he turns 35 in January.