Luis Suarez has put Barcelona back on top of the football world, looking down on Real Madrid who may just be wondering what might have been had they signed the Uruguayan in 2013 when they had the chance.
Suarez had fluttered his eyelashes in Madrid’s direction saying it "would be difficult to say no" but Real Madrid did not want him because they were chasing Gareth Bale all summer and were led a merry dance by chairman Daniel Levy as he extracted the best price.
Meanwhile Arsenal triggered the buy-out clause in Suarez’s contract by bidding £40 million plus one pound but Liverpool broke their word and would not sell. A furious and fired up Suarez came back from his 10-game ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic and started scoring goals from all angles.
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Suarez signed a new Liverpool deal in December 2013 and produced a sensational season reminiscent of Cristiano Ronaldo when the Portuguese wanted to leave Manchester United and had set about proving that he was worth the money to release him from his contract.
Arsenal would probably have won the league had Suarez gone to the Emirates and Liverpool almost did win the league but for Steven Gerrard’s slip against Chelsea.
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He was that good.
Meanwhile, Barcelona with Lionel Messi and Neymar won nothing under Gerardo Martino as Real Madrid claimed their 10th European Cup plus the Copa del Rey while Atletico Madrid won La Liga.
After Suarez disgraced himself again at the World Cup by biting Italian Giorgio Chiellini there were calls for an extended ban. Real Madrid and Ronaldo were put off and they signed James Rodríguez and Toni Kroos instead.
Barcelona took the calculated risk with one journalist for a Spanish publication suggesting: "Signing Suarez, who, as one of the best players in the world, they believe will improve a team who suffered such a disappointing season, seems a no-brainer.”
As predicted by some, Suarez did not fit in initially and was not happy playing provider for Messi and Neymar but his work-rate won over the fans, players and new manager Luis Enrique. He eventually started to score, the MSN was created, and they started to share the goals between them.
Barcelona won the treble in 2014/15 and Madrid sacked Carlo Ancelotti. Los Blancos turned to Madrid-born Rafa Benitez in the summer but he was gone by January.
This season Barcelona have just broken the 27-year-old Spanish record for going unbeaten and they could conceivably do another treble and be first team ever to retain the Champions League.
Meanwhile in La Liga, Madrid are 12 points behind Barca in third place and Ronaldo has even criticised some of his own team-mates. Los Blancos are probably not kicking themselves that they did not take Suarez when he would have crawled across broken glass to the Bernabeu, but maybe they should be.
Suarez said recently: “You just can’t believe how quickly things happen in football and the way life turns. I went from being the bad guy, the worst player who gets all the criticism, to being the player who makes the difference and scores the important goals.”
There are not many players that could go into a team with Messi and Neymar and improve it. The only explanation that the Barcelona fans can find is the love that they have found ever since Suarez has been around.
And that has put them on top of the football world.
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