One of the reasons Lionel Messi told Barcelona he wanted to leave Camp Nou this summer - according to various reports at the time - was due to the club’s treatment of Luis Suarez.
Suarez left Barça on Wednesday as the Catalan outfit’s third all-time leading scorer with 198 goals in 283 appearances.
But the revered Uruguayan striker was told in a phone call with Ronald Koeman, which reportedly lasted less than one minute earlier this summer, that he was no longer wanted at Camp Nou.
This news was not only a devastating blow to Suarez, but also to Messi.
The two South Americans and their families became close friends off the pitch.
Suarez is now an Atletico Madrid player, while Messi will remain with Barça until next summer at the earliest.
But how effective were the two pals on the pitch together?
Is Suarez Messi’s best ever teammate in teams of joint goal involvements? We’ve used Transfermarkt.com’s data to find out…
20. Bojan Krkic (Joint goal participation: 11)
Bojan sadly failed to live up to the hype but the diminutive forward still managed to combine with Messi for 11 Barcelona goals.
19. Adriano (Joint goal participation: 11)
Messi’s favourite pass is to the attacking full-back behind the opposition’s defence, so it’s no surprise to see Adriano in the top 20.
18. Cristian Tello (Joint goal participation: 13)
Tello only played 63 games alongside Messi but they combined for 13 goals.
17. Gerard Pique (Joint goal participation: 15)
Only two players have played more games alongside Messi - and they both feature on this list. In their 483 games together (so far), Messi and Pique have been jointly involved in 15 Barça goals.
16. Thierry Henry (Joint goal participation: 16)
In 89 appearances, Henry and Messi linked up for 16 goals.
15. Gonzalo Higuain (Joint goal participation: 17)
If only this figure was a little higher, Messi might have a World Cup winners’ medal to his name.
14. Sergio Aguero (Joint goal participation: 17)
Like Suarez, Aguero is one of Messi’s closest friends in football. The two world-class forwards have combined for 17 goals for Argentina.
13. Sergio Busquets (Joint goal participation: 18)
No player has played in more games with Messi (523 and counting) than Busquets. Together they’ve linked up for 18 goals. We’re slightly surprised it isn’t more.
12. Samuel Eto’o (Joint goal participation: 23)
The Eto’o, Ronaldinho and Messi triumvirate under Frank Rijkaard was fantastic to watch. Eto’o and Messi played 105 games together, combining for 23 goals.
11. Alexis Sanchez (Joint goal participation: 24)
Just outside the top 10 sits Sanchez, who played 117 games with Messi at Barcelona.
10. David Villa (Joint goal participation: 26)
Villa and Messi were on the same side for 102 games and combined for 26 goals - roughly one in four matches.
9. Cesc Fabregas (Joint goal participation: 26)
Fabregas and Messi go way back and their families are also close. They had an excellent on-field understanding at Camp Nou.
8. Ivan Rakitic (Joint goal participation: 27)
Rakitic, who has returned to Sevilla, recently admitted that he wasn’t Messi’s closest friend. But they still linked up for 27 goals in 277 appearances together.
7. Jordi Alba (Joint goal participation: 29)
If this list took into account pre-assists, Alba would probably be top. The number of times Messi has found the attacking left-back with an inch-perfect pass is ridiculous.
6. Xavi (Joint goal participation: 43)
One of the best midfielders of all time, Xavi and Messi combined for 43 goals in 399 games together.
5. Dani Alves (Joint goal participation: 47)
Alves and Messi would warm-up together before matches and it was always a joy to watch. The South American duo had a wonderful on-field understanding and linked up for a total of 47 goals.
4. Pedro (Joint goal participation: 50)
Pedro and Messi played 270 games together with Messi and combined for half-a-century of goals.
3. Andres Iniesta (Joint goal participation: 54)
Messi and Iniesta produced many magical moments together in their 489 appearances.
2. Neymar (Joint goal participation: 56)
Neymar only played 161 games with Messi but the world-class duo still linked up for an impressive 56 goals.
1. Luis Suarez (Joint goal participation: 96)
But top of the list - and by a country mile - is Suarez.
The two mates played 258 games together and combined for an astonishing 96 goals.
Messi is certainly going to miss him - both on and off the pitch.
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