Luis Suarez claims to have known that he would be pushed out of Barcelona by Ronald Koeman, but the Uruguayan admits bidding farewell to Camp Nou is still “very hard” after six memorable years.
The Uruguayan striker, who has been deemed surplus to requirements by a new coaching regime in Catalunya, is preparing to cross a Liga divide and link up with Atletico Madrid.
Few could have predicted that such a switch would be made, with Suarez having recorded 198 goals in 283 appearances for Barca.
Koeman, though, is eager to start afresh on the back of a disappointing 2019-20 campaign for the Blaugrana and there is no room in his plans for an experienced South American striker.
Suarez leaves with four Liga titles and a Champions League triumph to his name and says he will take many happy memories with him to a new chapter in his career at Wanda Metropolitano.
At a press conference to confirm his departure, the 33-year-old frontman – who arrived at Camp Nou in 2014 serving a ban for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini at that summer’s World Cup – told reporters: “It is very hard to say goodbye but I am very grateful after the club trusted in me in the complicated moment I was living when I arrived.
“My team-mates were always fantastic and everyone knows about my sacrifice here, I am proud of leaving that way.
“Playing here was a dream and I never imagined I could reach these numbers because at Barcelona you always must perform at the top and you will never know how long you will stay.
“There were amazing moments in those years, my best memories are the first Liga championship, the Champions League, the goals and playing with these amazing players I knew before from the PlayStation. I must enjoy these moments.”
Suarez added on his exit and the manner of it: “I already accepted leaving in that way, now I must change my mind and focus on the new challenge.
“It was a crazy month, the last one, many wrong things were published which made me angry but everyone knows about my relationship with [Lionel] Messi. When I arrived I knew all about him and after six years we have an amazing relationship, I leave very proud.
“I already expected Koeman’s call because I was warned about that, I could accept this even though I had a contract, we must accept that decision.
“It looks ironic but when Barca told me the coach didn’t want me I received a lot of calls and offers but I still felt able to challenge at La Liga level against Barcelona and Real Madrid, I never had a doubt.
“I still think I am able to perform at my best in La Liga. I am leaving in this way but I still have goals to show I can still perform at the top.
“Sometimes a club or a player needs to change and in this case the coach didn’t want me, I leave with the feeling of an accomplished duty, beating big Barcelona legends [in the list of all-time top Barcelona scorers] is something I never expected but I am happy for this.”
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