Luis Suarez has revealed the most disappointing aspect of his departure from Barcelona was that the club said he was too old to perform at the highest level.
Suarez left Barca for Atletico last September, in a transfer Camp Nou icon Lionel Messi described as ‘crazy’, and he has gone a long way to proving the club were hasty in their actions by firing his new team to the summit of La Liga.
The 34-year-old Uruguayan is happy in his new surrounds, despite admitting it was tough to uproot his family, but is still irked by being billed as too old.
“What really bothered me was when they told me that I was old and that I could no longer play at a high level, be up to [the task of fronting] a great team,” Suarez told France Football. “That’s what I did not like.”
Suarez claims his record stood up to the closest scrutiny, and that the club erred in signing players not on an elite level.
“If I hadn’t done anything at a club like Barca for three or four seasons, I would have understood,” he said. “But, every year at Barca, I scored more than 20 goals per season. I have always had good statistics, just behind Leo (Messi).
“Today, we can see that it is not easy to play at Barca … A lot of players who signed there did not have the level that was expected of them. Me, I played for six years at Barca maintaining a certain level and living up to what was expected of me.
“At Barca, circumstances have changed, the club needed changes. And I accepted it. The only thing that bothered me was the way [it happened]. I think I deserved some respect.
“It was a decision that I could not prevent. I felt like I was no longer being counted on, so with my pride I told myself that I was going to continue to show what I am worth. This is why the idea of going to Atletico, a competitive team, appealed to me.”
Suarez is correct in his statement that in every season at Barcelona, he scored upwards of 20 goals a season.
His peak campaign was in the 2015-16 season, when he netted an astonishing 59 goals in all competitions. It was a term in which he scored more goals than Messi, and won the European Golden Shoe.
His goals return was excellent in 2016-17 (36) and 2017-18 (31), but the trend was downward and in his final two seasons at the club he netted 23 and 21 goals.
It could be argued Barca were justified in their decision, but the anger about the way in which it was handled has spurred the former Liverpool man on.
He has netted 16 goals for Atletico so far this term and they top the Liga table by three points – albeit their form has dipped in recent weeks with just one win from their last four games.