In a move that seemed inevitable since the start of the summer, Liverpool confirmed in a statement released on Friday that star striker Luis Suarez would be sold to Barcelona for an undisclosed fee that journalists believe to be in the region of $130m.
While there were murmurings that Real Madrid had been interested in the player early in the summer, reports indicate that Barcelona was too enticing a destination for Suarez to reject, and that he had been preparing for the move even before he joined his Uruguayan teammates in Brazil for the World Cup; a belief that crystallized after Suarez was banned for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini.
From the BBC:
Since Suarez was thrown out of the World Cup, the move to Spain has occupied his mind. Weeks ago he was telling friends of his excitement that the deal was done and that he had been promised the Barca number nine shirt, worn by Chile winger Alexis Sanchez last season.
Further, while transfer negotiations dragged as Liverpool approached Alexis Sanchez, Suarez had already made up his mind, given that he maintains a home in the Catalonian capital and has family that live in the area.
In a statement released on Friday, Suarez thanked Liverpool fans before explaining his decision:
"This club did all they could to get me to stay, but playing and living in Spain, where my wife's family live, is a lifelong dream and ambition. I believe now the timing is right."
On an emotional day for me would just like to say what a pleasure it has been playing with an amazing talent such as Luis. I would like to thank him for his outstanding contribution on the pitch during his time @liverpoolfc and to wish him and his family all the best on his new adventure in Spain. #lfclegend
While the loss of Suarez would seem to hamper Liverpool's Premier League hopes, the reality is that the transfer is ideal for all parties involved. Suarez was given his dream transfer, Barcelona wil benefit from one of the sharpest attacking trios in soccer by way of Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar, and Liverpool received their desired fee and won't be handcuffed by Suarez's four-month ban, instead free to approach players with a number of weeks left until the season kicks off.
That said, while a marquee signing should be cause for widespread celebration, it seems that some fans are concerned with Suarez's history of controversies, ranging from a history of biting, to being charged and found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra.
That Suarez was allowed to move to Barcelona in the first place is somewhat surprising, given that Suarez's ban bars him from all soccer-related activities (save for an exception for transfers, apparently), and that Barcelona were handed a 14-month transfer ban that FIFA saw fit to put on hold just before the summer transfer window opened.
Suarez scored 82 goals in 133 games for Liverpool, a rate of one goal per 1.62 games, an astonishing rate for any modern player, and Liverpool's best since the Second World War.
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