Suarez a difference maker - Stoichkov

Hristo Stoichkov has hailed Luis Suarez's role in Barcelona's return to form and has defended Gerard Pique against recent criticism.

Hristo Stoichkov believes Luis Suarez is thriving on the same sort of telepathic understanding with his team-mates that he enjoyed with the likes of Romario and Michael Laudrup during his time at Barcelona.

Uruguay international Suarez has scored nine goals in his past three La Liga games to take his tally to 54 in 50 appearances across all competitions this season.

Suarez continues to form one third of a devastating attack alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar, and Stoichkov - who earned legendary status during his spell at Camp Nou in the 1990s - lavished praise on the former Liverpool man.

"Suarez is the sort of player who can make the difference with his movement," the ex-Bulgaria star told Sport.

"You don't just get that from training, but also from playing with players who understand each other. He has an understanding with his team-mates just like I had an understanding with [Julio] Salinas, [Jose Mari] Bakero, [Michael] Laudrup and [Ronald] Koeman. I never had to say a word to Romario to understand what he wanted.

"Suarez is an outstanding player and a born winner. He scores so many goals because he is always looking for a goal. He is always trying to pop up in the best position to support his fellow attackers."

Stoichkov also had his say on outspoken centre-back Gerard Pique and stressed there is no reason to criticise the defender, regardless of what he does off the pitch.

"I will always defend Pique because he is a good guy," he added.

"He works hard and is enjoying life as a footballer. People like to criticise him, but they have no proper arguments.

"He is a symbol of Barcelona's youth academy, like [Guillermo] Amor, [Pep] Guardiola and Chapi Ferrer in the past."

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