Suarez was the biggest name at the club that was told to leave immediately Ronald Koeman took over from Quique Setien in August. The Uruguayan striker first tried to join Juventus but couldn’t because he wasn’t able to acquire Italian citizenship.
Though Luis Suarez showed that he was not ready to leave Barcelona and was determined to see out his contract with the Spanish giants which would have ended in June 2021 if he was not pushed to leave, the pressure continued to mount on him to find another club until he had to jump on any available offer.
From all indications, Suarez was treated like he was not the same striker that scored 195 goals and provided 113 assists for Barcelona in 283 appearances. He was treated like he was not part of Barcelona’s squad that won 13 major titles including four La Liga titles and one UEFA Champions League in 6 years.
The way the former Uruguay international and a one-time La Liga golden boots winner was treated forced Barcelona’s talisman Lionel Messi to voice out his anger over how the club disrespected his friend and former teammate. Messi said Suarez was kicked out of the club and that nothing surprises him anymore.
But Ronald Koeman stressed during the weekend that he only executed the plan that was already on ground before he took over as the club’s manager. He also stressed that he didn’t only respect Suarez as a player but respected him as a person.
“It seems I’m the bad guy in this movie,” Ronald Koeman said at a news conference on Saturday. “But that’s not the case.
“I have shown respect to Luis — the player and the person — from day one. I always said it would be tough to give him minutes but that if he stayed he would be part of the squad. I told the club that as well.
“But it was a decision made by the club. Before I came in as the coach, the club had already made decisions to change things. There are young players here. It wasn’t a decision made by me alone, but also by the club.”
On Lionel Messi’s reaction over the exit of Suarez, Koeman said: “I think it’s normal that a player is a little sad when a friend of his leaves the club after so many years together.
“The most important thing for me is how Leo has been in training and games. In training, he has been an example for everyone. I have not seen a single day when he has seemed affected. I have no doubts about Leo in that sense.”
Suarez has moved on and is already looking forward to starting a career with Atletico Madrid. He has been given a two-year deal at Atletico Madrid, an opportunity the Uruguayan could use to prove that he still has a lot to offer at the highest level of club football.