Luis Suarez has hit out at his former club Barcelona for the manner of his departure this summer – a move which angered club icon and good friend Lionel Messi.
The former Liverpool forward was forced to call time on his Barca career even though he still had one year left on his contract at a club where he had scored 198 goals in 283 games across six seasons.
Only Messi and Cesar, an icon of the 1940s and 50s, have scored more goals for Barca, but Suarez, 33, was ushered out of the door in a fairly brisk fashion following the appointment of Ronald Koeman as manager this summer.
The Uruguayan joined La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid on a two-year deal for a nominal fee, and has begun his career in the Spanish capital by scoring two goals in his first three appearances.
Messi, who had attempted to leave the Nou Camp himself during the close season, was left deeply angered by the treatment of his friend, and Suarez has he understood why he was upset.
“I was not surprised about Messi because I know him too well, I knew the pain he felt, as I did,” he told reporters after scoring a penalty in Uruguay’s 2-1 win over Chile in a World Cup qualifier on Thursday.
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“He felt they kicked me out of the club because of the forms. There were other ways to do things correctly with me. They were six long years and that bothered him too. I see him as a friend and he knows how badly we suffered.
“My family wanted to see me happy. There are some strange things at Barcelona like sending you to train separately because you were not considered for the game.
“Those kinds of things made me (feel) bad and my family saw me affected, so they encouraged me to take the opportunity. When Atletico came looking for me, I didn’t hesitate for a single moment.
“Obviously I have to get used to various things, but I feel very happy at Atletico.”
Messi also scored a penalty on Thursday evening, netting the only goal in Argentina’s 1-0 win over Ecuador.
The two friends’ goals saw them both move onto 39 strikes in South American World Cup qualifiers, a joint-record tally that sees them draw level with Brazilian great Ronaldo.