Luis Suarez was visibly emotional as he gave a departing press conference to mark his official exit from Barcelona and transfer to La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid.
With cost-cutting a necessity for a troubled Barça this year, Suarez has been the highest profile casualty of the Camp Nou shake-up and joined Atletico in a €6m deal. He was initially expected to join Juventus in a shock move until encountering bureaucratic problems.
The Uruguayan has spent the last six years at Camp Nou, where he became close friends with Lionel Messi – indeed, one of the many factors behind Messi’s brief insistence on leaving the club is thought to have been the treatment of Suarez.
“It's not just a player leaving. A human being who has feelings is leaving,” Suarez said, holding back tears as he addressed the media for the last time as a Barça player.
The 33-year-old also commented that he will always remain ‘one more culer’, despite his departure and reflected on the ‘dream’ that he fulfilled by joining the club: “To come here for a dream that I made a reality is something I could never have imagined.”
He went on to speak about what it will be like to line up against Barça.
“I’m very keen to take on a new challenge, but it is always special when you face your old team. It will be special for them as well because they will be facing me. Every player has to do the best for their team, defend their own, and do what they can,” Suarez explained.
When the questions ended, the player stood up to a lengthy round of applause.
Atletico will unveil Suarez as their player in due course, having so far only publicised that an agreement has been reached to sign him.