Credit: Антон Зайцев / soccer.ru
Perhaps one of the most surprizing developments in last summer’s Covid-19 disrupted transfer window was newly appointed Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman’s handling of star striker Luis Suarez.
The Dutch man made it crystal clear upon his arrival at the club that Suarez would not be part of his plans and he would be made available for transfer as Barcelona try to rebuild their squad in preparation for the upcoming season.
The Uruguayan enjoyed an illustrious 6 years at the Camp Nou winning 13 major trophies including four La Liga titles and the UEFA Champions League. Suarez terrorised defences in the Spanish top flight becoming the clubs third highest goal scorer with an incredible 198 goals in 283 appearances for the “Blaugrana”. Luis Suarez also formed a close friendship with Barcelona’s legendary captain Lionel Messi during their time together at the Camp Nou. This resulted in the Argentinian criticising the Catalans and new manager Ronald Koeman over the way they treated Suarez’s impending departure from the club.
Lionel Messi paid tribute to his friend; “You deserved a farewell befitting who you are: one of the most important players in the history of the club, achieving great things for the team and on an individual level. You did not deserve for them to throw you out like they did. But the truth is that at this stage nothing surprises me anymore.”
A few days later Messi made it clear that he wanted to leave the club immediately and on a free transfer. The Argentinian told new manager Ronald Koeman in a phone conversation that he felt “more out than in”, and he sent a fax to the Barcelona head office informing them of his desire to leave the club with Manchester City his most likely destination. Messi wanted to leave the club for a number of reasons such as; the appointment of new manager Ronald Koeman without his blessing, the way the club handled the departure of his close friend Luis Suarez and the boardroom politics within the club.
According to Argentinian outlet Diario Ole, Messi was left angry and frustrated after the first meeting with Ronald Koeman. The outlet claimed Barcelona boss Koeman told Messi“your privileges here are over”. Lionel Messi decided to stay at the club this season after Barcelona President Josep Bartomeu made it clear the Argentinian would not be sold under any circumstances.
Despite scoring 21 goals in an injury-hit 2019/20 season Suarez’s physical condition has dropped in recent seasons since his prime and his immediate future has come under increasing scrutiny in recent transfer windows.
Barcelona have publicly declared their interest in long term target Inter Milan striker LautaroMartinez who has been touted as Suarez’s long-term replacement at the Camp Nou. Suarez had been heavily linked with Juventus throughout the transfer window as the Scudetto Champions searched for a striker, but the Bianconeri moved onto other targets after Suarez was forced to go through a lengthy process of acquiring Italian citizenship. There were also accusations that the Uruguayan allegedly cheated on his entrance exam to gain Italian citizenship. Despite the collapse of his transfer to Juventus, Suarez was in favour of staying in Spain as his young family are settled in the country after spending 6 years in Barcelona.
Ronald Koeman got his wish when the Uruguayan moved to the Spanish capital to join La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid on a two year deal. Atletico Madrid secured the services of the Barcelona legend for £5.5 million which was an astute piece of business from Atleti sporting director Andrea Berta.
Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone who has previously described the Uruguayan striker as a “hugely important player; tremendous, marvellous, extraordinary, strong, aggressive, intense” and described him as an exceptional player. The Argentinian manager phoned Suarez to convince him to join when he saw the possibility of obtaining his services. Suarez will lead the line for the Atletico and will replace Alvaro Morata who joined Juventus on a season long loan with an option to buy.
Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman will be regretting his decision to let the legendary striker join arch rivals Atletico Madrid as the Uruguayan has settled in effortlessly at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.
Diego Simeone’s side have struggled to consistently score goals following Antoine Griezmann’s transfer to Barcelona in the 2019 summer transfer window. When they needed someone to step up and make the difference Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata often failed to find the net consistently which was a problem for Simeone’s title chasing side.
Atletico only scored 51 goals in La Liga last season which was the fewest in the top seven as they struggled to replace Griezmann. Luis Suarez proved on his debut for Atletico Madrid that he can be the man to help deliver “Los Colchoneros” their first La Liga title since the 2013/14 season. The Uruguayan produced a 20 minute cameo off the bench against Granada on the opening day of the season in the 5-0 win scoring twice, creating a goal and winning a penalty.
Suarez has rolled back the years for Atletico Madrid as he tops the Pichichi standings (top goal scorer) with 14 goals in 16 appearances in La Liga at the half way stage of the season. Atletico Madrid currently sit on top of the table in La Liga at the half way stage of the season with 50 points holding a 10 point advantage over arch rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid. “Los Colchoneros” have been exceptional this season under Simeone, boasting an incredible defensive record having only conceded 10 goals in 19 matches in La Liga.
Suarez and Diego Simeone have developed a close relationship in the Spanish capital as they both aim to return Atleti back to the top of La Liga for the foreseeable future. The Uruguayan has proven toBarcelona manager Ronald Koeman that he made a big mistake selling him to arch rivals Atletico as he spear heads their first title in 7 years.