Ronald Koeman Claims Luis Suárez Could Have Stayed to Fight for Place at Barcelona

Tom Gott
Ronald Koeman admits Luis Suarez chose to leave Barcelona
Ronald Koeman admits Luis Suarez chose to leave Barcelona / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman has claimed striker Luis Suárez was not forced out of Camp Nou and was given the chance to stay.

Koeman's arrival was quickly followed by the news that Suárez was no longer a guaranteed starter at the club, with Barça instead pursuing Inter's Lautaro Martínez and Lyon's Memphis Depay as replacements. Although they didn't sign either, Suárez was still offloaded to Atlético Madrid.

Suarez joined Atletico in a cut-price deal
Suarez joined Atletico in a cut-price deal / Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Suárez recently revealed that he cried over the whole thing as he felt he was being forced out of the club, but speaking to NOS, Koeman insisted he merely threw the gauntlet down to Suárez, who chose to leave instead of fight.

"In the case of Suárez, it had become very difficult for him to start playing and I made that known to him," Koeman explained. "He found it difficult, but I never had any trouble with him at all.

"He trained normally, trained well. He finally made the choice to leave and I said: 'If you don't leave, for whatever reason, then you are just one of the group, then you can prove that I was wrong'. He could have stayed, yes.

"I'm good with Luis, but the club felt that we had to rejuvenate. You can see that now in the team. Ansu Fati plays, he is 17 years old. We have Pedri, 17 years old, who gets his chances. Ronald Araújo is there at the age of 21. Trincão plays a lot and is 20 years old, and we have taken Sergiño Dest, who is 19. Those are all players for the future."

Another player who was frustrated with Suárez's departure was Lionel Messi, who was also pursuing his own move away after growing dissatisfied with life at Camp Nou.

Suarez & Messi are incredibly close friends
Suarez & Messi are incredibly close friends / Soccrates Images/Getty Images

"After signing here as a trainer, I immediately contacted Leo," Koeman added. "I went to his home and talked to him about his future. He was clear about his dissatisfaction. In the end it worked out well and from the moment he indicated he was going for it, he has done everything I expect from him.

"If you have someone in the locker room with whom you and your wife and children also hang out outside football, then such a reaction makes sense. I said that to Messi too: 'I understand that you are disappointed and think it is a terrible shame that he is leaving, but these are choices of the club'."

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