Some breakups are better than others, some are just plain ugly and doused in disrespect that leave a bad taste in the mouth. This one reduced a grown man to tears on national television. We’ve seen this before, but it’s usually come from one-club players who have been retired through injury. It’s rare to see this due to a fall out that’s resulted in irreconcilable differences - Casillas’ exit from Real Madrid comes to mind. For Suarez, however, is likely to be the result of two hard hitting truths for the ruthless striker; the end of his career at Barcelona, a club he literally bit a player to get a move to, and perhaps a public and inner acknowledgement that he’s approaching the twilight of his playing career.
If the story mill is to be believed, all it took was a 2 minute phone call and Luis Suarez’s six year career at Barcelona came to an end. An 8-2 defeat against Bayern Munich was the straw that broke the Camp Nou back and the new club manager, Ronald Koeman, decided it was time to take drastic measures. Warning shots have been fired and Koeman decided, however harshly the manner might appear, to cut the Uruguayan and club legend loose. Was it a move to chip away at the power Messi has at the club, or has Koeman concluded Suarez can no longer contribute to Barcelona’s quest for silverware? A bold move by the former Barcelona legend.
(I wonder how much Koeman would be worth on Football Index? A defender who netted 182 goals in 556 matches - mental!)
Anyway, whatever the reason, the move was a football and not a financial one. He received a hefty pay off from the club upon exit, rumoured to be very close to his annual salary, a player on 400k euros per week, and accepted a measly, in football terms, 6m euros from Atletico Madrid who signed him on a two year contract. Furthermore, he has accepted a pay cut on his Barcelona wages to play for the Madrid side. Have Atletico got themselves a bargain?
Arguably, Suarez has been on a decline in recent seasons, but he does descend from the highest heights. With a “humble” start of scoring 16 La Liga goals in his first 2014/15 season, an envious tally for many a striker, he went on to score 40, 28, 25, 19 then 16 goals in the league from 2015/16 to the 2019/20 campaign last year. He also provided 78 assists in that time. That’s an incredible 222 goals and assists in 191 appearances for Catalan club in La Liga alone. Was the 24 goals and assists in 28 La Liga games in his final season for Barca really a sign of a player who couldn’t offer the side anything moving forward and enough to warrant the cold goodbye...? Again, it’s a bold move.
If anything can be said about Luis, it’s that he’ll do anything to win… ANYTHING! He’ll bite you, make a valiant save and antagonise anyone, verbally or physically, who tries to get one over on his side. He’s turned it into more of an art than most, as more often than not he still appears to gain referee favour and get away with it. The type of player you hate to play against, but would love to have on your side. The same sentiment exists amongst the fans and well as players, both for and against. Trust me, I’m a Liverpool fan and have experienced both sides of the Suarez dance with officials. Love him or hate him, you can’t argue with the numbers and only an elite few even come close.
Barcelona is a club that’s boasted recent legends such as Ronaldinho, Eto’o, Ronaldo (the Brazilian one, obviously, Barca love a Brazilian), Rivaldo and Neymar, and he’s out performed all their goal records. He's forced his way into the club’s history as their 3rd all time top scorer. Undoubtedly, he leaves Camp Nou a club legend in the eyes of the Barcelona faithful, as well as very publicly in the eyes of the club’s ‘God’, Lionel Messi.
But how do we think he’ll do at Atletico?
It must be stated he has frequented the treatment table more in his last season than any of his previous years, having missed 14 games last term. But this was mostly due to knee surgery which, like most human beings, requires a period of convalescence. Before this, he missed the odd game due to the same issue, the longest period being 3 games missed due to injury. I honestly don’t think he missed a game for Liverpool due to injury at all, and one can only imagine he saw pain as a minor inconvenience.
Given he will also have been rested during the games’ downtime while all major football leagues were in lockdown, have Barca born the brunt of a recovery period that Atletico will now benefit from?
Suarez showed little sign of slowing down or even sentimentality in his 20 minute appearance for his new club, netting twice and providing one assist. A goal or an assist every 6.66 minutes recurring, by my reckoning. It’s a promising start to say the least. I feel sorry for any defensive pair that find themselves in the middle of a bickering footballer chest off with Suarez and Diego Costa. I mean, can you imagine? Luckily, you may not have to, as these two striker powerhouses will undoubtedly both be on the pitch simultaneously on occasion. The papers will have a field day when the temperatures rise!
Bullying aside, the games Simeone decides he wants to unleash the hounds will be captivating for any football fan. This hot tempered duo are deadly and they won’t be short of the delivery needed to finish from Atleticos quality midfield.
Time will tell whether or not Suarez’s days are truly numbered at the highest level, but I’d bet my house on there will still be plenty of moments of class from El Pistolero who will certainly, come fixtures against Barcelona, want to fire shots of his own. What have Barca done...?!