Tough to ac­cept Barça de­par­ture: Suárez

Arab Times - - SPORTS -

MADRID, Sept 24, (AP): Luis Suárez was emo­tional when he was in­tro­duced by Barcelona six years ago, and again on Thurs­day when he had to say good­bye af­ter be­ing told he wasn’t wanted by the club any­more.

The Uruguayan striker, who has joined Atlético Madrid, couldn’t hold back tears as he bid farewell and said he will al­ways be grate­ful de­spite be­ing told to leave.

“When the club says it doesn’t need you any­more, you have to ac­cept it,” he said in a news con­fer­ence or­ga­nized by Barcelona. “But it takes a while, it’s dif­fi­cult. Your fam­ily is in­volved, you’ve gone through a lot with the club. So it’s dif­fi­cult to ac­cept that you are leav­ing, but you have to. It’s the re­al­ity, it’s how things are in soc­cer.”

The 33-year-old Suárez, who reached a deal with Barcelona ri­vals Atlético on Wed­nes­day, broke down a few times while talk­ing about his for­mer team­mates and his time with his for­mer club.

“This is very hard for me. It wasn’t ex­pected, I didn’t have any­thing pre­pared,” he said. “It’s been many years, I’ve made many friends, that makes me happy.”

Suárez said he was “leav­ing with pride for hav­ing made his­tory with this club.”

He departs as Barcelona’s third high­est scorer with 198 goals, be­hind César Ro­dríguez (232) and Lionel Messi (634). The Uruguayan helped Barcelona win 13 ti­tles since ar­riv­ing in 2014 from Liver­pool, in­clud­ing four Span­ish league tro­phies and the Cham­pi­ons League in 2015.

Atlético will pay up to 6 mil­lion eu­ros ($7 mil­lion) to Barcelona af­ter sign­ing the striker, who last month was told by in­com­ing coach Ron­ald Koe­man that he was not in his plans.

Suárez thanked Barcelona for be­liev­ing in him af­ter his bit­ing in­ci­dent “mis­take” at the 2014 World Cup, which led to a long ban but didn’t keep the Cata­lan club from sign­ing him.

“I’ll al­ways be thank­ful for that,” he said. “It wasn’t easy to ac­cept that, but the club be­lieved in me. From the time I ar­rived, my col­leagues and ev­ery­one in the club treated me won­der­fully.”

Suárez did not crit­i­cize Barcelona, Koe­man or club pres­i­dent Josep Bar­tomeu for how his exit was han­dled. But he said “a club should ac­cept when a player asks to leave,” which didn’t hap­pen when his close friend Messi re­quested to do so in the off­sea­son.

Suárez said he had an idea that he was not wanted by Barcelona from what he had heard in lo­cal me­dia re­ports. He said Koe­man told him in a phone call that he wasn’t go­ing to be needed, shortly af­ter the Dutch man­ager was hired in Au­gust fol­low­ing the team’s 8-2 loss to Bay­ern Mu­nich in the quar­ter-fi­nals of the Cham­pion League.

Suárez will join Ar­gen­tine coach Diego Sime­one at Atlético, as well as Brazil­ian-born striker Diego Costa.

“When Barcelona told me that I wasn’t needed any­more, I re­ceived sev­eral calls from other clubs,” he said. “I felt that I was still able to play in a club that could com­pete against Madrid and Barcelona. I’m go­ing to a very com­pet­i­tive team that can achieve a lot.”

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