Koeman didn’t count on me: Suarez

Koeman didn’t count on me: Suarez

MADRID • Luis Suarez yesterday broke down in tears in his farewell interview with Barcelona after sealing a move to La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid.

Barcelona said that Atletico had agreed to pay €6 million (S$9.6 million) for their third-highest scorer of all-time behind Cesar Rodriguez (232) and Lionel Messi (634).

The Uruguayan netted 198 goals in 283 appearances after joining from Liverpool in 2014, winning four league titles, four Spanish Cups and the Champions League.

Suarez was told over the summer that he was no longer required by new coach Ronald Koeman despite hitting 16 goals in 22 La Liga starts to finish as the fourth top scorer in Spain’s top flight last term.

He looked on his way to join Serie A champions Juventus until new coach Andrea Pirlo said last week a deal was unlikely because of delays in his bid to get an Italian passport.

Suarez’s exit comes as Koeman attempts to reshape Barca. He has shown the exit to Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic, while Samuel Umtiti is also set to leave.

However, Suarez yesterday expressed his unhappiness at being unceremoniously booted out, suggesting Messi was also unhappy at the manner of his departure.

“The club needed changes and the coach didn’t count on me. I want to show that I can still perform at a high level,” he said. “I’m joining Atletico with excitement, but I still haven’t thought about what it’ll be like to play against Barca. I haven’t fully digested it yet.

“Leo knows what I think and I know what he thinks. We are old enough to give each other advice. Leo felt strange because I’m going to a direct rival, but nothing will change our relationship.”

Suarez will be valued by Atletico manager Diego Simeone, who once described him as a “hugely important player”.

The striker will replace Alvaro Morata in Atletico’s front line after the Spain striker was loaned to Juve for a season with an option to buy.

Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo reported that the deal was expedited after Suarez threatened to circulate a private e-mail from Barca that named the clubs – including Real Madrid, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain – he could not move to for free.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS