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Luis Suarez at Atlético Madrid, a match made in heaven

There’s rarely a transfer in football that just, you know, fits. A player’s character and a team’s character in perfect harmony. A match made in heaven. But seeing Luis Suarez at Atlético Madrid has always made perfect sense.

There’s a love-him-or-hate-him quality about Suarez, which is shared by boss Diego Simeone. They’re both combative and competitive, no-nonsense and niggling. It’s a partnership that many guessed would just work.

But not many would have predicted just how big an impact Suarez would have on Atletico’s fortunes.

A sudden and undeserved Barcelona exit

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The arrival of Ronald Koeman at Barcelona spelled the end for Suarez at the club. Koeman made it clear that he was surplus to requirements, which is baffling for the club’s third-highest goalscorer of all time, even if he was 33 at the time.

“They were very difficult moments because of the manner [in which it happened]. Koeman called me and told me that I was not in his plans. When Barcelona made it official that they did not count on me, conversations began with Atleti, with Cholo [Simeone], with Miguel Angel.”

Luis Suarez on the swift nature of his departure from Barcelona

It’s not clear exactly why Barca let a club legend leave for just £5.5million to a rival team. Koeman himself claims the club had already made the decision before his arrival. But Suarez left the club reluctantly, and into the arms of a grateful Diego Simeone, who must’ve been pinching himself.

After 6 years, 198 goals and countless trophies, Suarez was on the move. Unwanted, underappreciated, and with a point to prove.

Barca’s loss, Atlético’s gain

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We’re past the half-way mark in La Liga, and Atlético sit comfortably top of the table. And the league’s top scorer? You guessed it, it’s that man Luis Suarez.

The way he’s adapted to life in the red half of Madrid has been remarkable. Simeone has built his attack around him, and reaped the rewards. His drive on the training ground to be the best is spurring on his team mates.

According to sources close to Suarez, he’s determined to win La Liga at Barca’s expense. It drives him more than anything. And who can blame him? Since moving to Atlético Madrid, Luis Suarez has been at the top of his game. Arguably as good as ever. That has to be a huge middle finger to Koeman and co – privately at least.

Suarez’s goals, as ever, are doing the talking. And the message to his former employers is loud and clear.

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© Mike Barclay at The Football Diary 2020