Sunday 23 October 2016

Zubizarreta reveals Luis Suarez was Barcelona's second choice transfer target last season

Jack De Menzes

Published 18/01/2016 | 11:02

Sergio Aguero, left, and Luis Suarez
Sergio Aguero, left, and Luis Suarez

Barcelona wanted to sign Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero instead of Luis Suarez despite the Uruguayan’s incredible form in La Liga, a former senior club official has revealed.

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Andoni Zubizarreta, the former Barcelona sporting director, has told Spanish newspaper Marca that the club were determined to sign Aguero from City in the summer of 2014 after the World Cup. Barcelona saw Aguero’s talents up close during his time with Atletico Madrid, while they also faced the Argentina international when City met in the Champions League last-16 in 2014 as well as at the same stage a year later.

But once the Catalans realised that City would not be selling Aguero – with the striker’s public declaration that he wanted to stay at the Etihad going a long way to putting Barcelona off the move – they turned their attentions to Suarez, who was already serving a four-month ban at Liverpool after he was found guilty of biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup.

"We had several options. Suarez wasn't the first choice – he knows as much. In the winter we tried to sign Aguero, but it didn't work out.”

Zubizarreta, whose contract with Barcelona was terminated last summer, added that the incident between Suarez and Chiellini during Uruguay’s 1-0 win over Italy in the World Cup group stage threw Suarez’s transfer into doubt, citing “question marks over his character and how serious his punishment would be” given that talks had already begun when Suarez bit the Juventus defender.

"The Chiellini incident happened while the negotiations were ongoing,” he added.

"That business put off many of the clubs who were interested in him; there were question marks over his character and how serious his punishment would be.

"I felt it was the right time to step up our efforts to sign him.

"I liked everything about him: he wasn't static, he could run the channels and he gave us something that we were lacking. There was another key factor: from the beginning he was totally desperate to join Barca."

Suarez was eligible to play again for Barcelona in October 2014, and he went on to help Barcelona secure a historic treble in the form of their La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League success last season.

(© Independent News Service)

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