The reinvention of Luis Suarez: Atletico Madrid's main man on a mission to prove Barcelona wrong

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Uche Amako
·4 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Luis Suárez — The reinvention of Luis Suarez: Atletico Madrid's main man on a mission to prove Barcelona wrong - GETTY IMAGES
Luis Suárez — The reinvention of Luis Suarez: Atletico Madrid's main man on a mission to prove Barcelona wrong - GETTY IMAGES

There is a famous lyric by American rapper Jay Z that can be suitably adapted for the final chapter in the career of one of Europe's elite strikers: ‘Allow me to re-introduce myself. My name is Luis Suárez.’

In the aftermath of Barcelona's humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, Gerard Piqué demanded change and an influx of new blood to rejuvenate a club in a steady decline.

Among the scorers on that fateful night was Suárez, who dropped a shoulder to ease past Jérôme Boateng and fired a clinical shot into the bottom corner.

The Uruguayan was still capable of genius but Barcelona and Ronald Koeman saw fit to make him one of the first casualties of a revamp.

And six months later, along with a myriad of problems that are crippling Barcelona, the decision to allow the 34-year-old to leave may prove to be one of their biggest mistakes.

Suárez's partner in football crime Lionel Messi knew it was a mistake and did not hide his disgust.

“You deserved a farewell befitting who you are: one of the most important players in the history of the club, achieving great things for the team and on an individual level,” Messi wrote in a scathing Instagram post last September.

“You did not deserve for them to throw you out like they did. But the truth is that at this stage nothing surprises me anymore.”

Messi's message came with additional scorn as he was embroiled in a contract row with then-president Josep Maria Bartomeu but seeing a former team-mate join rivals Atlético Madrid would have sparked justifiable fury in the Argentine.

Suárez had been close to leaving Spain and teaming up with Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus but the proposed move collapsed amid allegations of cheating a language exam in a bid to be eligible for an Italian passport.

Atlético reacted quickly, seeing off interest from Paris St-Germain and snapped up Suárez, who had no qualms about coming up against Barcellona and his La Liga revenge tour has been better than even manager Diego Simeone could have predicted.

Suárez is the top scorer in Spain with 16 goals and despite Saturday's surprise defeat by Levante, Atlético are three points clear of neighbours Real with a game in hand.

Barcelona, with their reliance on Messi higher than ever before, are fourth and eight points behind.

While Liverpool and Jürgen Klopp have struggled without the passion and fervour generated by fans at Anfield, Simeone, a similarly intense and animated figure on the touchline, has rejuvenated himself with Suárez spearheading the attack.

The underdog, counter-punching style Simeone has harboured at Atlético is less evident this season with Suárez forming a fruitful relationship with Portuguese prodigy Joao Felix.

Felix plays slightly deeper which allows Suárez to keep the central defenders occupied with his movement, intelligence and work-rate that aligns with Simeone's ideals.

"Luis generates fear in rivals no matter what competition it is," Simeone said in a press conference before Tuesday's Champions League match with Chelsea.

"He has skills and qualities that attract a lot of attention from any rival."

Luis Suarez — The reinvention of Luis Suarez: Atletico Madrid's main man on a mission to prove Barcelona wrong - GETTY IMAGES
Luis Suarez — The reinvention of Luis Suarez: Atletico Madrid's main man on a mission to prove Barcelona wrong - GETTY IMAGES

On Saturday, after dominating possession in the early stages, Chelsea's three-man backline was cut open by a pass from Southampton's Nathan Redmond and Takumi Minamino was able to waltz through and score.

If Felix is presented with a chance to do the same, his link with Suárez will almost certainly result in a similar outcome.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel is well aware of the quality Suárez still possesses having been interested in signing him last summer when he was PSG manager and his players would do well his heed his words of warning about the striker.

"We tried our luck, we did not make it. He decided to stay in Spain, move to Atlético, and has proven his quality," Tuchel said.

"He is a natural striker, a born striker, and has a certain mentality that only strikers have. This mentality is to show his will, intensity and anger to score, score and score. He is never satisfied.

"So what a mentality, what a player. We play him with Atlético and we know about his qualities. We are aware of them and will try to stop him from scoring."

Last week, the next generation of strikers, Kylian Mbappé and Erling Haaland, stole the headlines.

On neutral ground in Bucharest, Romania, Suárez will once again take centre stage in Europe's premier competition and don't be surprised if Chelsea become the latest victims of his mastery.