Luis Suarez has blasted Barcelona for pushing him out of the club in the summer due to concerns he was “too old”.
It was made clear to the 34-year-old when he returned for pre-season training that he had no future ahead of him at the Nou Camp following Ronald Koeman’s appointment.
His new manager had little to do with the decision though, as Barca chiefs axed the forward and sold him on to rivals Atletico Madrid.
Since then, the Uruguayan has been in lethal form for Atleti and is currently co-leading the La Liga scoring charts alongside former strike partner Lionel Messi.
But the bitter taste of his Barcelona exit still lingers.
“What really bothered me was when they told me that I was old and that I could no longer play at a high level, be up to [the task of fronting] a great team,” Suarez told France Football . “That’s what I did not like.”
“If I hadn’t done anything at a club like Barca for three or four seasons, I would have understood. But, every year at Barca, I scored more than 20 goals per season. I have always had good statistics, just behind Leo (Messi).”
There was a clause in Suarez’s contract at Barca that would have entitled him to a new deal if he played in 60 per cent of the club’s fixtures this season.
Given Barcelona’s perilous financial state, that would have proved costly, as Suarez was their second top earner on £290,000 per week, and offers some context behind their decision.
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Suarez added: “At Barca, circumstances have changed, the club needed changes. And I accepted it. The only thing that bothered me was the way [it happened]. I think I deserved some respect.
“It was a decision that I could not prevent. I felt like I was no longer being counted on, so with my pride I told myself that I was going to continue to show what I am worth. This is why the idea of going to Atletico, a competitive team, appealed to me.”
Atletico are currently top of La Liga, three points clear of Real Madrid with a game in hand, while Barcelona sit eight points behind.
Suarez may well have ended up in a new country altogether though, had things worked out differently.
He looked set to join Juventus before the Serie A club pulled out of the deal due to a problem with Suarez obtaining an Italian passport.
Thomas Tuchel has also revealed he then tried to land Suarez’s signature, but he snubbed the chance to join him at PSG.
“There was the chance he was going to leave Barcelona. We tried but he preferred to stay in Spain and sign for Atletico,” said Tuchel.
Suarez will come up against Tuchel on Tuesday as Atletico meet Chelsea in the Champions League last-16.
Did Barcelona make the right call by selling Suarez? Have your say below.
Atletico managed to strike a reasonable deal to take Suarez to the Wanda Metropolitano.
Suarez was insistent he wanted to leave on a free transfer, but instead, Atletico agreed to wipe €5million off the debt Barcelona still owed them for the transfer of Antoine Griezmann.
On top of that, they agreed a series of additional clauses which could see the total cost of the transfer rise to €11m.
As per Sport, there are three clauses – each worth €2m.
The first, Suarez has already achieved, by making 20 appearances for the club, and could complete the second if Atleti reach the next round of the Champions League, while the third is in relation to next season.