The summer of upheaval at Barcelona has now seen one of the club’s best performers of the last several years depart. Luis Suárez, who helped the team win four La Liga titles, four Copa Del Reys, a Champions League and a FIFA Club World Cup, has left to join Spanish rivals Atlético Madrid, leaving Lionel Messi as the sole survivor of the dreaded MSN (Messi, Suárez, Neymar) front line that invoked so much fear across Europe.
198 goals in under 300 appearances represents quite the return for the Uruguayan, who leaves in something of a cloud given the tumultuous nature of life at Barcelona at the moment. A move to Juventus had initially appeared to be on the cards for the 33-year-old, but issues over acquiring an Italian passport proved too difficult to overcome, and Atlético were on hand to swoop for the striker.
The signing certainly adds an exciting dimension to the new La Liga season, which is already underway for the teams who weren’t involved in the latter stages of the European competitions last season. Atlético are looking to improve on their third-place finish from last season, where they finished 17 points behind champions and city rivals Real Madrid. They might not be favourites in the betting exchange to win the title, but they weren’t when they shocked the league to win it in the 2013-14 season either.
The arrival of Suárez could be one geared towards making more of a challenge domestically this campaign. Atlético have struggled slightly since the departure of Antoine Griezmann, as they haven’t had that star man and focal point in their attack. Signing a big name forward of Suárez’s ilk is a major statement of intent, and should excite the fans ahead of the new season.
One of the most interesting aspects of Suárez joining the club will be seeing him pair up with Diego Costa in attack. The duo are both strikers well known for playing the game on the very edge, winding up opponents and getting under the skin of both referees and opposition supporters. It will be fascinating to see whether the two can strike up a partnership or whether they will clash heads if placed in the same starting eleven.
It’s clear that Suárez still has plenty to offer, having scored prolifically for Barcelona last season, albeit not quite to the same degree that he achieved in prior seasons. At 33, it’s no lie to say that the Uruguayan has entered the autumn of his career, but a player of his immense talents can never be taken lightly.
His arrival should give a boost to the rest of the squad, not only in that bringing in a player of Suárez’s class improves the team’s chances of success and winning trophies, but also in that it should spur the other players on to match his immense determination and the high standards he’ll set both in training and on the pitch.
Indeed, the match-up between Suárez and coach Diego Simeone will be equally intriguing. They are two men who wear their hearts on their sleeves, and that partnership is bound to produce fireworks this season. Whether it will result in a challenge for the league title is a whole other question, but the arrival of a world-class forward like Suárez will certainly help Atlético’s cause.