Emotional Suárez Says It Was Tough To Accept Barça Departure

Emotional Suárez Says It Was Tough To Accept Barça Departure

MADRID: Luis Surez was emotional when he was introduced by Barcelona six years ago, and again on Thursday when he had to say goodbye after being told he wasnt wanted by the club anymore.

The Uruguayan striker, who has joined Atltico Madrid, couldnt hold back tears as he bid farewell and said he will always be grateful despite being told to leave.

When the club says it doesnt need you anymore, you have to accept it, he said in a news conference organized by Barcelona. But it takes a while, its difficult. Your family is involved, youve gone through a lot with the club. So its difficult to accept that you are leaving, but you have to. Its the reality, its how things are in soccer.

The 33-year-old Surez, who reached a deal with Barcelona rival Atltico on Wednesday, broke down a few times while talking about his former teammates and his time with his former club.

This is very hard for me. It wasnt expected, I didnt have anything prepared, he said. Its been many years, Ive made many friends, that makes me happy.

Surez said he was leaving with pride for having made history with this club.

He departs as Barcelonas third highest scorer with 198 goals, behind Csar Rodrguez (232) and Lionel Messi (634). The Uruguayan helped Barcelona win 13 titles since arriving in 2014 from Liverpool, including four Spanish league trophies and the Champions League in 2015.

Atltico will pay up to 6 million euros ($7 million) to Barcelona after signing the striker, who last month was told by incoming coach Ronald Koeman that he was not in his plans.

Surez thanked Barcelona for believing in him after his biting incident mistake at the 2014 World Cup, which led to a long ban but didnt keep the Catalan club from signing him.

Ill always be thankful for that, he said. It wasnt easy to accept that, but the club believed in me. From the time I arrived, my colleagues and everyone in the club treated me wonderfully.

Surez did not criticize Barcelona, Koeman or club president Josep Bartomeu for how his exit was handled. But he said a club should accept when a player asks to leave, which didnt happen when his close friend Messi requested to do so in the offseason.

Surez said he had an idea that he was not wanted by Barcelona from what he had heard in local media reports. He said Koeman told him in a phone call that he wasnt going to be needed, shortly after the Dutch manager was hired in August following the teams 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals of the Champion League.

Surez will join Argentine coach Diego Simeone at Atltico, as well as Brazilian-born striker Diego Costa.

When Barcelona told me that I wasnt needed anymore, I received several calls from other clubs, he said. I felt that I was still able to play in a club that could compete against Madrid and Barcelona. Im going to a very competitive team that can achieve a lot.


More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni