Luis Suarez and Diego Simeone are made for each other at Atletico
PETE JENSON: Luis Suarez and Diego Simeone are made for each other at Atletico Madrid as the boss has always wanted to sign the Barcelona striker who could form a fearsome partnership with Joao Felix… not to mention Diego Costa!
- Luis Suarez and Diego Simeone are ideally suited as player and coach
- The Atletico boss has always wanted to sign the Barca man and is edging closer
- Suarez, 33, is close to leaving the Nou Camp and could leave the club for free
- Barcelona fans could fear a repeat of when they sold David Villa to their rivals
If ever a coach and a player were made for each other then it’s Diego Simeone and Luis Suarez. The thought of them working in harness this season is likely to cut Atletico Madrid’s price for the title and excite the club’s fans in ways not seen since they bought back Diego Costa from Chelsea. And that’s before they even contemplate the prospect of Costa and Suarez in tandem.
At the end of last season Simeone’s nose twitched when it became clear Barcelona were booting out their third all-time highest scorer. He had always wanted the club to sign Suarez and had, in the same breath, always seen it as impossible. The deal still looked very hard to make work.
Atletico had no money to spend on transfers and unless big earners left then there were no funds to pay the 33-year-old either. He became even more pessimistic when Suarez appeared bound for Juventus.
If ever a coach and a player were made for each other then it’s Diego Simeone and Luis Suarez
The Atletico Madrid boss has long admired the striker who is on the verge of leaving Barcelona
But things have taken several unexpected turns in the last two weeks. Suarez’s move to Juventus was scuppered by Serie A’s stricter rules on players being registered as European.
In Spain Suarez counted as a European Community player because his wife has an Italian passport. In Italy that was not enough. He needed to get a European passport. He had never bothered to apply for Spanish citizenship so he tried to rush through the process in Italy.
With Juventus fearing he would not be able to do so in time to register for the new season, new coach Andrea Pirlo, expressed his preference to move for his former team-mate, Alvaro Morata.
Suarez was strongly linked with Juventus but passport rules have scuppered a move to Italy
Juve have moved for Alvaro Morata, which has opened the door for a swoop for the Uruguayan
Josep Bartomeu’s tendency to move the goalposts means the move is not done just yet
The 27-year-old was unhappy at Atletico Madrid where he has never been able to convince Simeone that he should be the club’s first-choice centre-forward.
He was upset at being left out of Atletico’s Champions League quarter-final with Leipzig and his representatives made it known he was open to the right sort of offer. Juve, where he had always been happy, was just that offer.
With Morata edging towards Turin, suddenly the red sea was parting and Simeone could see the promised land on the other side. If Morata moved to Italy it would free up a salary that could be spent on Suarez. He would still need to arrive as a free agent but Barcelona had promised the player as much after his historic six seasons at the club.
Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu’s capacity to move the goalposts according to who is trying to score the goal make the club a very difficult institution to deal with and that essential free transfer is still in the balance, but Atletico fans are already imagining how their XI might look next season.
Suarez would most likely line up alongside £114m man Joao Felix, rather than Diego Costa
The Portuguese youngster has reminded everyone of his talent with a series of top displays
Joao Felix has already reminded everyone why he was signed for a record £114million fee last summer with his Champions League quarter-final performance against Leipzig and subsequent games for Portugal. What he lacks in maturity, physical presence and consistency, Suarez would more than make up for. That would be the strike partnership if Suarez arrives.
The Uruguayan may lack pace, more so than ever at 33, but with Atletico also boasting winger Yannick Carrasco and attacking midfielder Marcos Llorente that is not something that is missing from the Simeone machine.
There are concerns over Suarez’s knees but those close to him say he feels he can go on for several more seasons. It might not be the best thing for him but such is his desire to squeeze the last drop out of his career it is what he intends to do.
Winger Yannick Carrasco would make up for Suarez’s lack of pace, as would Marcos Llorente
Simeone would have the option of pairing Suarez with Diego Costa, a tantalising prospect
An Atletico with Suarez would probably line up in a 4-4-3 with Suarez, Joao Felix and either Carrasco or Llorente in front of a three-man midfield of Thomas Lemar, Saul Niguez and Koke (providing Lemar does not end up at Arsenal with Uruguayan Lucas Torreira going the other way).
With a third Uruguayan in the centre of his defence, providing Jose Gimenez does not end up at Manchester City, and Jan Oblak his goalkeeper, Simeone will feel he has a team to win the league.
Barcelona supporters meanwhile will be feeling they have been in this situation before.
Barcelona have seen this before, when David Villa joined Atletico and helped them win LaLiga
David Villa joined Atletico from Barcelona in 2013 and scored 13 goals in 36 games as Simeone’s side won the league. This would be different and potentially worse if Suarez were to continue his scoring rate. Last season, with 21 goals, he would have been Atletico’s top scorer, and that in a campaign interrupted by a knee operation.
Suarez’s arrival sets up another interesting prospect: Suarez up front alongside Costa. Liverpool looked at Costa when they sold Suarez to Barcelona in 2014. The two are similar in many ways although the Brazilian, in his prime, could always run in behind teams on quick counter-attacks better than Suarez whose goal record is far superior.
Could they really be let loose on the rest of Europe in the Champions League? With Morata gone Simeone might not have to lose another striker from his wage bill so Costa could stay.
Despite being 33, Suarez will add plenty of goals to Atletico and would be a huge addition
Even if there is a desire to get rid there has been little interest in him so far this summer.
If he stays it would make sense for him to be used in rotation with Suarez than alongside him. But it would be another option for Simeone to use them occasionally as a pair. Every time he wanted to go at a rival with both barrels, he would have the firepower to do exactly that.
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