Luis Suárez thanked Barcelona because they trusted him in 2014, just after he said goodbye to that year's World Cup with a shameful act of biting an Italian rival.
MADRID – Luis Suárez shuddered with emotion when he was introduced as a Barcelona player six years ago, and the same happened to him on Thursday in a forced farewell when the Catalan club notified him that he was no longer part of their plans.
The Uruguayan striker, brand new acquisition of Atlético de Madrid via exchange with Barça, could not contain his tears when saying goodbye to Barcelona. He affirmed that he will always be grateful to the Catalans, even though they showed him the exit door.
“If the club and the player think that he has reached this point, we have to accept it,” Suárez said at a press conference. And if it is the player who wants to leave, too. It is difficult, it is difficult, these are rare moments and you have a family. You have to accept it. These are things that happen in football ”.
The 33-year-old, whose deal with Atlético was closed on Wednesday, cried more than once when talking about his career at Barça.
He also highlighted the fact that the Catalans decided to sign him after the scandal caused at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, when he was sanctioned for the bite of the Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini.
“This is all unforeseen, because I have nothing prepared. I have to thank the club because they trusted me in 2014. They knew I made a mistake and they continued to trust me. It was not easy to accept that. The teammates treated me wonderfully, ”said Suárez.
Suárez stressed that he is leaving proud after making history at Barcelona.
He does so as the club's third top scorer, with 198 conquests, behind César Rodríguez (232) and Lionel Messi (634). The “Pistolero” won 13 titles with Barcelona upon his arrival from Liverpool, including four trophies from the Spanish League and the Champions League in 2015.
The cost of the transfer to Atlético would reach 6 million euros (7 million dollars). Suarez had to find another destination, after new coach Ronald Koeman informed him last month that he was not going to take it into account.
Suárez avoided reproaching Barcelona, Koeman or the club president Josep Bartomeu for the way his departure was handled. But he emphasized that a club must also “accept when a player is the one who wants to leave”, which did not happen when his close friend Messi requested it last month.
“It was a crazy month, saying many things that one did not think,” said Suárez.
He said that he had some idea that his days at Barcelona were numbered by what he had learned in the press and that Koeman told him in a phone call that he was on the discard list, shortly after the Dutchman took over after the embarrassing 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals.
At Atlético, Suárez will meet Argentine coach Diego Simeone, as well as Uruguayan center-back José María Giménez.
“It sounds ironic, but when Barça told me that they didn't count on me, they put me on the market and there were many calls,” said Suárez. I felt qualified to go to a team in which to compete as equals with Barça and (Real) Madrid, “he said.
Regarding his friendship with Messi when passing to a direct rival, Suárez stressed that the Argentine star “must feel strange things.”
“But that is not going to change our relationship, the feelings we have about facing each other as rivals in difficult games such as Barça-Atlético are not going to mix,” he said.