Luis Suarez scored twice against Rayo Vallecano, as his recent goal explosion continued. BENJAMIN CREMEL-AFP-Getty Images
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Luis Suarez is key to Barcelona’s treble hopes this season, according to Siem de Jong, who hailed the competitiveness of his former Ajax team-mate.

Barca are on track to retain their LaLiga crown, while the Catalan giants are already through to a record sixth straight Copa del Rey final as they prepare to face Manchester United in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday.

Uruguay international Suarez has scored 23 goals this season – 20 of those coming in LaLiga for Ernesto Valverde’s side.

Former Ajax captain De Jong – who is on loan at A-League side Sydney FC – won the Eredivisie and KNVB Cup while playing alongside Suarez from 2007 until 2011 and heaped praise on the 32-year-old forward.

“He is a winner,” De Jong said in an interview with Omnisport. “He always wants to win everything.

“In training, he wanted to win every game. He’s really competitive. I like that. I liked the way he wanted to do everything possible to win the game.

“He’s also really skilful. When he came to Ajax, he had a good season in Holland before that.

“He eventually moved on to Liverpool, where he did really well too. At Barcelona you can see how good he really is.

“When he came to Ajax, that was his goal to get to Barcelona. He did really well achieving that.”

Asked if Suarez can lead Barca – who have a 1-0 advantage ahead of United’s visit to Camp Nou – to the treble, De Jong said: “I’d say Barca are one of the favourites to win the Champions League.

“In LaLiga and the Copa del Rey they have a good chance. But for the Champions League, they have a good chance too. I see them competing with Manchester City or something. I think Suarez is a big part of Barcelona.”

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