Byline: IAN DOYLE at the DW Stadium
PREMIER LEAGUE WIGAN 0 LIVERPOOL 4 Downing (2), Suarez (18, 34, 49) OUTSIDE the DW Stadium on Saturday evening, an admiring huddle formed around a ball-juggler skilfully demonstrating his wares. But once inside, however, there was only one man upon whom adoring gazes were resolutely transfixed.
It is simply impossible to take your eyes off Luis Suarez at present.
Suarez may polarise opinion across the country given past misdemeanours but, when it comes to harnessing sheer talent, the Liverpool striker surely has no equal in the Premier League this season.
Just ask Wigan Athletic, the Uruguayan running riot against Roberto Martinez's strugglers to claim his second hat-trick of the campaign and notch further landmarks in an already-bulging Anfield scrapbook.
Of course, it was on Liverpool's last visit to these parts in December 2011 that they sported controversial tops underlining their support for Suarez in his race row with Manchester United's Patrice Evra.
Now, though, you can put your shirt on the Uruguayan lighting up whichever stadium in which he performs. The nearest Wigan got to Suarez was when substitute Roger Espinoza exchanged jerseys as the striker dribbled off with the matchball at full time.
Liverpool will hope Anfield remains his home stage for years to come. Brendan Rodgers revealed last week a meeting with Suarez's agent suggested the player gave no inkling of wanting a move elsewhere.
But with Rodgers readily admitting the striker is more than deserving of the Champions League stage, he will surely be braced for a summer of interest from the likes of Bayern Munich and Juventus.
Whether Suarez's incredible form - he now has 28 goals in 38 games in all competitions this season - is enough to earn either the Player of the Year or Footballer of the Year awards remains to be seen.
It should. But those past controversies could yet sway the minds of his peers and scribes alike, despite neither Robin van Persie nor Gareth Bale, Suarez's only realistic rivals for such accolades, boasting unblemished records.
Suarez might not be able to erase the past in that respect, but he continues to do so in another.
By becoming the first Liverpool player to score 20 league goals in a season since Fernando Torres five years earlier, the 26-year-old has further banished the memory of the Spaniard from the minds of the Anfield support.
Even Suarez's team-mates are being left speechless.
"There is not much more you can say about him," says Joe Allen. "He is world class and his hat-trick speaks for itself.
"His relationship not only with the players he plays with, but also the fans, doesn''t really happen that often.
"He really is a hero and an idol for everyone. The way he is performing for this club, he deserves to be.
"With Luis, you know he is going to conjure something up at any given moment in a game. To have that in your team is enormous."
Suarez wasn't the only South American to catch the eye at the weekend as Liverpool made light of the absence of Daniel Sturridge to continue their goal-laden form; it's now 12 in three games for Rodgers' men.
The other January arrival, Philippe Coutinho, stepped in for a second start and continued to provide encouragement, help-ing create Liverpool's opening two goals. …