Luis Suarez has brought an end to his six-year stint at the Nou Camp after joining Atletico Madrid, where he will team up with another controversial forward in Diego Costa. Suarez, who joined Barcelona from Liverpool in 2014, leaves the club having won the Champions League, four La Liga titles and four Copa del Rey trophies.
The former Liverpool forward was Barcelona’s third all-time top goalscorer with 198 goals in all competitions, but was deemed surplus to requirements by new manager Ronald Koeman, who is keen on changing the old guard.
The Uruguayan will replace Alvaro Morata in Atletico’s front line after the Spanish striker was loaned to Juventus for a season with an option to buy.
His arrival will see him link up with Costa, a terrifying prospect for rival defences throughout La Liga.
Love him or loathe him, Suarez has drawn up quite the rap sheet over the last decade on and off the pitch.
From his ‘hand of god’ display at the World Cup in 2010 (a feat he repeated for Liverpool three years later nonetheless), to his volatile temper which has seen him bite and punch opponents, the 33-year-old is one of the game’s most controversial players.
Equally, Atletico’s Costa, is no angel.
The former Chelsea striker clashed with team-mate Oscar in a training ground bust up during his Stamford Bridge days. And Liverpool fans will not forgot his stamp on midfielder Emre Can back in the League Cup semi-final second leg five years ago.
Off the pitch he is no stranger to pranks, including making headlines last New Year’s Eve by setting off fireworks in a bedroom while his brother Jair slept.
An Atletico with Suarez would probably line up in a 4-4-3 with Suarez, Joao Felix and either Carrasco or Llorente in front of a three-man midfield of Thomas Lemar, Saul Niguez and Koke (providing Lemar does not end up at Arsenal with Uruguayan Lucas Torreira going the other way).
With a third Uruguayan in the centre of his defence, providing Jose Gimenez does not end up at Manchester City, and Jan Oblak his goalkeeper, Simeone will feel he has a team to win the league.
David Villa joined Atletico from Barcelona in 2013 and scored 13 goals in 36 games as Simeone’s side won the league. This would be different and potentially worse if Suarez were to continue his scoring rate. Last season, with 21 goals, he would have been Atletico’s top scorer, and that in a campaign interrupted by a knee operation.
Suarez’s arrival sets up another interesting prospect: Suarez up front alongside Costa. Liverpool looked at Costa when they sold Suarez to Barcelona in 2014. The two are similar in many ways although the Brazilian, in his prime, could always run in behind teams on quick counter-attacks better than Suarez whose goal record is far superior.
Could they really be let loose on the rest of Europe in the Champions League? With Morata gone Simeone might not have to lose another striker from his wage bill so Costa could stay.
Even if there is a desire to get rid there has been little interest in him so far this summer.
If he stays it would make sense for him to be used in rotation with Suarez than alongside him. But it would be another option for Simeone to use them occasionally as a pair. Every time he wanted to go at a rival with both barrels, he would have the firepower to do exactly that.
Atletico Madrid will receive a visit from Granada today at the Wanda Metropolitano. It will be Atleti’s first game this season in the Primera División, as their start has already been delayed due to their participation in the final stages of last season’s Champions League.
It will also be a match for which, unless there is a surprise, coach Simeone will not be present. As reported by ‘La Sexta’, the Argentinean was again positive in the last coronavirus tests.
The newspaper ‘Mundo Deportivo’ added that the Atletico Madrid manager will undergo another PCR test this Thursday, and another on Saturday. If both these tests were to come back negative, Simeone could sit on the bench against Granada, as he needs to test negative twice in 72 hours before the start of the match in order to manage his side.
One can only wonder if Suarez-Costa partnership will become a match made in heaven or a car crash waiting to happen.