Suárez bids emotional farewell to Barça

Barcelona, Spain, Sep 24 (efe-epa).- Luis Suárez couldn’t hide his tears as he bid farewell to Barcelona on Thursday, marking an end to a six-year stint at the club after a deal was reached with Atlético Madrid.

The Uruguayan forward’s move to Los Colchoneros was made official late on Wednesday night but he made one last outing at the Catalan club’s facilities the following morning to offer a few final words to his fans and colleagues.

“It’s not just a player but a human being with feelings who is leaving,” he told a press conference.

He said he wanted to thank the club for placing its confidence in him since he transferred from Liverpool back in 2014.

At the time of his signing, he was serving a five-month suspension from all professional footballing activities after he was found guilty of biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 Brazil World Cup (the third time in his professional career he had been sanctioned for biting an opponent).

“Barça knew the conditions I arrived with, the error I had committed, and I will always be grateful for that,” he said.

His tears gave way to a smile in the Camp Nou auditorium when organizers ran a playback of some of his best moments with the Catalan club.

“I’m leaving here with friends,” he said at the event, which was attended by his wife Sofia Balbi, Barcelona’s four captains, Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Piqué and Sergi Roberto, as well as Jordi Alba.

The club’s embattled president, Josep Maria Bartomeu was also in attendance and Suárez paid tribute to his “charisma.”

The Uruguayan leaves Barcelona as the club’s third-highest goalscorer of all time with 198 to his name. In six years he has won a Champions League, a Club World Cup, four LaLiga titles, four Copa del Rey trophies and two Spanish Super Cups.

“I have seen a dream come true, but I never imagined I’d reach these numbers.

“As I leave, I’m more than proud and satisfied with these wonderful years at Barça.”

Nodding to his teammate and friend Messi, he said: “My children have seen me play with the best in the world.”

At 33, Suárez said he chose Atléti as he believes he is still capable of taking the team to the highest level.

“I feel I’m still capable of competing in LaLiga, I’m very excited about it and I want to demonstrate I’m still competitive, if not with Barcelona then with another team.”

He wanted to make clear, however, that wherever he goes and although he wished he could have left on his own terms, he will always be a Barça supporter at heart.

Barcelona’s summer has been a tumultuous one.

An embarrassing 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich sent them packing from the Champions League and triggered a flurry of events, including the sacking of Quique Setién as manager, the appointment of Ronald Koeman and, most dramatically, Messi’s shock announcement that he wanted to leave.

Unwilling to take his club to court to challenge a disagreement between his team and his club on the interpretation of a contractual clause, Messi stayed put, but Barcelona have had to press ahead with offloading others from an ageing and highly paid squad.

Ivan Rakitic returned to Sevilla, Arthur Melo went to Juventus, Arturo Vidal to Inter, Nelson Semedo to Wolverhampton Wanderers before Suárez’s move to Atlético. EFE-EPA

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