Luis Suarez has revealed he did not think twice about joining Atletico Madrid after being told by new Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman that he was no longer required at the club.
The 33-year-old opened up about his September departure from the Camp Nou after scoring from the penalty spot to help Uruguay beat Chile 2-1 in their opening 2022 World Cup qualifier on Thursday.
“I did not take Barcelona’s message about needing a change of air very well,” Luis Suarez said.
“More than anything, because of the way it was handled because you have to recognize when a cycle is over.
“What my family wanted was to see me happy. There are things that are not known, but at Barcelona they send you away to train separately…
My wife was the one who saw that I was down and let me take the opportunity. When Atletico came looking for me, I didn’t hesitate for a moment.”
Suarez’s exit after six seasons and 198 goals with the Blaugrana prompted his teammate and close friend Lionel Messi to publicly criticize the club as he bid an emotional farewell on social media.
“I wasn’t surprised by what Messi did because I know him well,” Suarez said. “He knew the pain I was feeling.
The way it was handled, as if I was being thrown out, is what hurts most. There were other ways to do it.
They were six years and that’s what bothered him [Messi] too.
I see him as a friend and he knows how we suffered.”
Luis Suarez: I didn’t hesitate to join Atletico
“I was not surprised about Messi because I know him too well, I knew the pain he felt, as I did,” he told reporters after scoring a penalty in Uruguay’s 2-1 win over Chile in a World Cup qualifier on Thursday.
“He felt they kicked me out of the club because of the forms. There were other ways to do things correctly with me. They were six long years and that bothered him too. I see him as a friend and he knows how badly we suffered.
“My family wanted to see me happy. There are some strange things at Barcelona like sending you to train separately because you were not considered for the game.
“Obviously I have to get used to various things, but I feel very happy at Atletico.”
Messi also scored a penalty on Thursday evening, netting the only goal in Argentina’s 1-0 win over Ecuador.
The two friends’ goals saw them both move onto 39 strikes in South American World Cup qualifiers, a joint-record tally that sees them draw level with Brazilian great Ronaldo.