In football, the law of the ex strikes on regular occasions, as former players come back to haunt their old clubs in games. However, when it comes to veteran Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez he has come back to haunt former club Barcelona over a season.
The former Liverpool striker joined Atletico Madrid from the Catalan giant on a free transfer. He has gone on to score 21 in the Spanish top-flight to help Diego Simeone’s team to the Spanish title. The 34-year-old even scored the winner in a 2-1 win at Real Valladolid on Saturday evening to seal the title.
What a mistake to make
Barcelona allowing Suarez to join obvious title rivals Atletico last summer on a free was a glaring error by the club’s hierarchy. While his exit was motivated by the fact that the club wished to get Suarez’s off the wage bill. With finances tight and Suarez appearing to be on the wane allowing him to leave was not the biggest surprise.
However, the big error was allowing the Uruguayan to join Atletico. It was the sort of bonehead decision that has got the Catalan giants into the current mess they are in. Some of their decisions in recent seasons in the transfer market have been downright criminal. Allowing Suarez to join Atletico has to rank at the top of their list of mistakes.
Suarez deserves massive credit
Luis Suarez could have taken Barcelona’s decision to allow him to leave badly and declined this season. However, he is not that sort of player or character. Suarez was always going to bounce back with determination and in style.
People may not have thought he would score 21 goals in La Liga, but his determined attitude was always going to be a positive in the Atletico. His sheer will to win has certainly helped Los Colchoneros to achieve their first title since 2014.
Atletico have the most stable set of Spain’s big three
The race for the Spanish top-flight title is usually between Real Madrid and Barcelona, with Atletico occasionally interjecting as they did in 2014 and also this season. Despite winning La Liga this season, bookmakers will likely still have Atletico as third favourites for the Spanish top-flight next season.
It was the same in 2014, as Atleti failed to defend their title. However, looking at the position of the three clubs and their teams, Atletico looks to have the most stable set-up. Barcelona look set for a squad overhaul with continued financial issues and what looks like another change of head coach this summer.
Real Madrid’s squad is ageing and there are question marks over the future of veteran centre-back Sergio Ramos, who has missed 30 games this season through injury. There has also been speculation that French centre-back Raphael Varane could leave Los Blancos.
Atletico Madrid, though, has solidity in head coach Diego Simeone. The Argentinian is a head coach whose football philosophy does not seem to differ regardless of the personnel available to him. Simeone also has his on-field leader in Suarez.
The veteran forward’s summer move to Atletico Madrid changed the course of the title race this season. It would be dangerous to write off El Pistolero and his team repeating the feat next season.
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Can Luis Suarez help Atletico retain the Spanish crown next season?