BARCELONA: Barcelona struck a deal on Friday to buy Uruguayan star striker Luis Suarez from Liverpool, sealing the transfer despite an uproar over him biting a World Cup rival.
Despite the furore that saw him sent home from the World Cup, Barcelona pushed ahead to sign the 27-year-old goalscorer reportedly on the condition he apologise for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini.
The Spanish club said in a statement on Friday they and Liverpool “have reached an agreement for the transfer of Luis Suarez”, but declined to say how much they paid.
Spanish newspapers reported that Barcelona paid €81 million for the player while the British media put the sum at €94 million.
The player said a sad farewell to fans of the English club, whom he helped fire to second place in the Premier League last season, sending them into the Champions League.
“It is with a heavy heart that I leave Liverpool for a new life and new challenges in Spain,” he said in a statement published by Liverpool.
“This club did all they could to get me to stay, but playing and living in Spain, where my wife’s family lives, is a lifelong dream and ambition. I believe now the timing is right.”
The Spanish side said Suarez “will be travelling to Barcelona next week for a medical, to sign his five-year contract and to be officially presented to the media and fans as an FC Barcelona player.”
Suarez’s signing furnishes the Catalan club with one of the most formidable strike forces in the world as he joins two other superstar forwards, Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Brazil’s Neymar.
Barca’s new coach Luis Enrique is overhauling the squad after a disappointing season in which they narrowly failed to defend their Spanish league title.
Barcelona were seduced by the goalscoring record of Suarez, who was the top scorer in England’s Premier League last season with 31 goals.
“Suarez is one of the most productive strikers in European football,” said the club.
“He also has a strong competitive spirit and a powerful figure, and he’s coming to Barca in search of even more.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2014.