After six years sprinkled with goals that have brought Barcelona 13 trophies, Luis Suarez may be heading for an unceremonious exit from the Camp Nou.
The Uruguayan was Barca’s second-highest scorer last season behind captain Lionel Messi. But speculation about his future has grown since he was absent from a list of players Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu declared were not for sale as he promised big changes after the side’s seismic 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
Catalan radio station Rac1 reported on Monday that the striker had been told by new Barca coach Ronald Koeman that he was not in his plans for next season.
Spain’s sports papers followed suit on Tuesday: “Adios Suarez” read the front cover of Barcelona-based Sport, while the 33-year-old also appeared on the front of the other three national sports dailies.
“Koeman doesn’t want them”, said Mundo Deportivo, picturing Suarez, midfielders Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal and defender Samuel Umtiti. “The clear out begins”, said newspaper AS, while Marca showed Suarez walking out of a door below the headline ‘Clean up at Barca’.
Barcelona and Suarez’s representative did not wish to comment on the reports, although the Uruguayan made his discontent known in a Sunday interview with newspaper El Pais.
“People are talking about the names the president gave, of the changes that could happen, but no-one has told me they want to get rid of me,” he said.
“I’ve spent six years at Barca - enough time for them to tell me what they think.”
Suarez has scored 198 goals in 283 games for Barca and overtook Laszlo Kubala as the club’s third-highest scorer of all time last July, only trailing the late Cesar and runaway leading scorer Messi.
Suarez recognised that he was among those blamed for the humiliating loss to Bayern, the club’s heaviest defeat ever in European competition, but said the answer was not to get rid of every player who had spent a long time at the club.
“Everyone looks at those who have spent the most time at the club. That’s normal, but it’s also foolish,” added Suarez, who joined Barca from Liverpool in 2014 for a then club record fee of 82 million euros.
“Look at when Real Madrid were beaten by Ajax last year and they said Toni Kroos was finished, they wanted to retire Luka Modric, they said Sergio Ramos was a disaster and no-one was worth anything.
“Then the next year they did better, and everyone was saying they were all superstars. Everyone knows when there is a defeat people take shots at everyone. I honestly believe there is a lack of coherence, patience and above all memory.”