“I deserved some respect.”
Luis Suarez has opened up on his exit from Barcelona last summer, saying that he was irked by the club’s suggestion that he was too old to play at the highest level.
Suarez joined Atletico Madrid on a two-year deal last summer and has proceeded to light up the Spanish capital with 16 goals in 20 La Liga appearances this term to help Diego Simeone’s side take control of the title race.
Speaking ahead of Atletico’s Champions League last-16 clash with Chelsea on Tuesday night, Suarez said he deserved ‘some respect’ from Barcelona after six goal-laden seasons at the Camp Nou.
“What really bothered me was when they told me that I was old and that I could no longer play at a high level, be up to [the task of fronting] a great team,” Suarez told France Football.
“That’s what I did not like. If I hadn’t done anything at a club like Barca for three or four seasons, I would have understood,” he said.
“But, every year at Barca, I scored more than 20 goals per season. I have always had good statistics, just behind Leo [Messi].
Suarez, who won four La Liga titles and a Champions League during his time with the Catalan giants, added: “Today, we can see that it is not easy to play at Barca. A lot of players who signed there did not have the level that was expected of them.
“Me, I played for six years at Barca maintaining a certain level and living up to what was expected of me.
“At Barca, circumstances have changed, the club needed changes. And I accepted it. The only thing that bothered me was the way [it happened]. I think I deserved some respect.
“It was a decision that I could not prevent. I felt like I was no longer being counted on, so with my pride, I told myself that I was going to continue to show what I am worth. This is why the idea of going to Atletico, a competitive team, appealed to me.”
Atletico boss Simeone praised Suarez ahead of Tuesday’s meeting with Chelsea, which has been switched to Bucharest because of travel restrictions preventing visitors from Britain from entering Spain.
“Luis is important in all competitions because he brings us leadership,” said Simeone.
“He gives confidence to our team and attracts the attention of the opposition.
“History is with him and he has a gift, which is to score goals.”