Luis Suarez to Atletico Madrid — As it happened
23rd of September. 1600 hours. Suarez’s Audi moves out of the Barcelona Car Park. The Uruguayan is seen wiping his tears as he steers his way out of the Joan Gamper Training Facility for the last time. It is the end of El Pistolero at FC Barcelona.
Luis Suarez has been a faithful servant to his club. His move following the disastrous World Cup incident with Giorgio Chiellini certainly made the headlines for all the wrong reasons. But as time has flown away, the only thing that has mattered really is the matches he has won for the Catalans and the impact he has had on-field and off-field.
The ex-Liverpool striker was quick to make friends with Lionel Messi in his earliest days at Barcelona, and six years later, even the South American legends’ families are closely knit.
There has been a big hint of Suarez’s transfer away from Camp Nou for the past few months. As the Lionel Messi transfer saga reached its culmination, many were quick to observe that this had something to do for sure with Messi’s close friend Suarez moving away from Catalonia.
Well, now it is done and dusted. Suarez has moved from the capital of Catalonia to the capital of Spain. Atletico Madrid have signed Suarez in a EUR 6 million transfer, and the move has been confirmed by either party — with Barcelona even putting up a ‘6racias’ message celebrating Suarez’s 6 years at the club and thanking him for the services.
Today we take a detailed look at the bits and pieces which held a huge impact in the Barcelona striker moving to their fellow title challengers Atletico Madrid.
To be fair, Barcelona are entering a new era. Gone are those days where they single-handedly dominated the La Liga. With the footballing business reaching new heights every passing day, club football has become a combination of youth academy talent and big money signings. Unfortunately, the Catalans learnt it the hard way, and a bit too late.
New head coach Ronald Koeman has been assigned with the responsibility of bringing Barcelona back to their perch. Little does the Dutch legend know that this is not a 1-year target, rather a 5-year-plan with little steps every season.
Nevertheless, the revolution has begun and the first veteran to bit the dust is Luis Suarez.
There is no shred of a doubt that Suarez’s form dropped in the past couple of seasons. The 33-year-old has been a classic case of what happens when a professional player lacks world class fitness despite of playing for a world class club.
Injuries have been haunting the Uruguayan International for a while now. This has reduced his playing time at large. It is also common knowledge that after recovering from an injury, it takes some time for a player to settle in, especially when it comes to top flight football.
All this combined, Suarez was left with meager amount of opportunities to prove to his employers that he has still got it, in his legs. Surprisingly, he did.
Despite playing lesser number of games and having multiple injuries, Suarez was a force of nature whenever he was on the field. In his 22 starts for Barcelona last season, the striker was involved in 24 direct goal contributions (16 goals + 8 assists) — which are incredible figures for a player who was seemingly unwanted by his club later in the upcoming months.
But as they say, a club is always more important than a player. Barcelona’s philosophy and the new coach’s tactics meant that it was over for one of the best strikers in the Blaugranes’ history.
WHAT HAS BEEN SAID?
Italian football transfers specialist Fabrizio Romano was the first to break the news of Suarez leaving Barcelona. But there was a catch. The first and foremost priority for the signature of the forward always lay with Italian Champions Juventus.
But the move, which could see Suarez pair up with his pal Messi’s rival Cristiano Ronaldo, failed in a very controversial manner which did not involve any contractual disparities or any type of disagreements.
“He does not speak a word of Italian, does not conjugate verbs and only speaks using the infinitive. If Journalists would ask him some questions, he’d be lost. He earns 10 million Euros per year, he needs to pass this exam.” This was what was revealed after Luis Suarez failed to perform in the language test which is a part of the transfer regulations to Italy.
This closed the chapter of Juventus in Suarez’s life story.
But after the Italian media and regulations left their enemity, the Barcelona legend attracted a new internal adversary — Club President Josep Maria Bartomeu. In a ‘Public List’ of players who were ‘Untouchables’ when it came to the rebuild of the club — Luis Suarez was left out.
The next move was even worse. New manager Ronald Koeman was blunt in approaching Suarez through a telephonic conversation and tell him that he was ‘not part of his plans’. The conversation only lasted less than a minute.
This convinced the Uruguayan that a move was imminent in the next chapter of his career. And this is where Atletico de Madrid came knocking.
“Hugely important player: tremendous, marvellous, extraordinary, strong, aggressive, intense” Atletico manager Diego Simeone had used these very words when describing Suarez in the recent past. As soon as the Argentine coach smelt the opportunity, he apparently dialed Suarez to convince him for a move.
But Bartomeu proved to be another roadblock. The Barcelona President was against Suarez joining their title rivals and constantly kept rejecting the move until the player’s lawyers started getting involved.
After hours of meetings in the club’s boardroom, and 48 hours after the transfer saga was initiated, the Catalans had sanctioned Suarez’s move to Atletico Madrid.
“FC Barcelona and Atlético Madrid have reached an agreement for the transfer of the player Luis Suárez. The Madrid club will pay FC Barcelona €6m in variables. FC Barcelona would like to publicly express their gratitude to Luis Suárez for his commitment and dedication and wishes him all the best for the future.” Barcelona said there will be a farewell event for Suárez on Thursday afternoon.
IS SUAREZ A GOOD SIGNING FOR ATLETICO
Who would have thought back in 2014, that we could see English Premier League’s most ferocious strikers Diego Costa and Luis Suarez lining up together — at Atletico Madrid! But in 2020, it has become a overwhelming reality.
As Suarez gears up to join the training with his new Rojiblanco team-mates, Atletico fans are apparently going crazy over the move.
With Alvaro Morata completing his move to Juventus, the red-and-white half of Madrid has only two options in the traditional striker role — Diego Costa and Joao Felix. With Costa nearing end of his career as a top flight striker, Felix is too young to become an impactful striker at the La Liga giants.
This scenario fits well for the arrival of Luis Suarez. He scored 198 goals for Barcelona in the past 6 years, which averages to 33 goals per season. This doesn’t even count the innumerable assists he has provided for his team-mates. Legendary.
Suarez gives Atletico a consistent 15+ goals a season striker, and most importantly becomes a mentor figure to Joao Felix, who the club sees as their long term goal-scoring option. This move may actually turn into a historical one, if Suarez can convert his opportunities the way he did at Barcelona.
“I think I can still contribute a lot. As long as they want me, I want to give all I can.” Suarez’s last words as a Barcelona player — will the Uruguayan come back to haunt his previous employers? Only time will tell.