“We have spoken with Luis for two months about what I think of him, of how important he is for us and the situations that we create for him and without him on the pitch.” — Diego Simeone, Atletico Madrid manager
Luis Suarez is normally at the centre of controversy and his contract situation at Atletico Madrid has been no different. He’s had a public spat with his manager, Diego Simeone, and it looks as though his future lies away from the Metropolitano Stadium. Equally, Suarez has performed superbly at every club he’s been at and Atletico has been no different — he’s scored some vital goals for the side since his move from Barcelona.
Suarez has spent eight years in Spain and established himself as a true great at Barcelona, but it looks as though his time in Madrid is going to end on less than ideal terms. Despite turning 35, he still looks as sharp as ever and will expect to land another contract at a top club if indeed he does depart Atleti at the end of the campaign.
Let’s examine his dream, realistic and wildcard options this summer.
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Dream: Liverpool (no odds at time of writing)
A move back to Anfield would probably be Suarez’s preferred option. It would allow him to return to familiar surroundings, play at a high level and feature alongside quality players each week. His time at Liverpool from 2011 to 2014 gave him hero status and the Anfield fans would certainly welcome the return of the striker.
It’s unlikely that Suarez would have a regular starting role at the club, but he could be a great impact player for the side — with Divock Origi likely leaving Liverpool this summer, Suarez would represent a fantastic option off the bench.
A lot of pieces would have to fit to make this transfer happen — not least Suarez’s wage demands — but there’s certainly something in it for both sides if a short-term deal can be struck.
A more realistic move for Suarez would be one across the Atlantic to MLS. Suarez has previously mentioned his preference to play in America at some point in his career and this could be the perfect opportunity to make the leap.
There would likely only be a handful of clubs with enough pull to get Suarez to sign for them. Both Los Angeles clubs would stand a decent chance of making him their marquee signing, but Inter Miami appears to be the best fit for the creative player. The east coast location and hot weather would suit Suarez and give David Beckham’s MLS side the boost of signing a true footballing great.
Inter Miami already have some big names associated with them off the pitch, with Phil Neville leading the team from the sidelines and Beckham being closely involved the ownership of the club, but a name with the stature of Suarez on the pitch would be hugely beneficial to the brand and enhance the player’s reputation in the States.
One of the most surprising stories of the January transfer window was the one linking Suarez to Aston Villa. It was a story that gained traction with Villa manager Steven Gerrard apparently ready to get the band back together at Villa Park. The deal never got close to being finalised, but it certainly raised the intriguing prospect as attention turns towards the summer window.
Villa pulled off a coup in the transfer window with Philippe Coutinho joining the side on loan from Barcelona. The midfielder has impressed under Gerrard and there is now the real prospect he could make the move permanent in the summer. Coutinho’s progress at Villa Park certainly won’t have gone unnoticed at Casa de Suarez.
The odds are against the move happening, but if Steven Gerrard can convince his old team-mate to join the project he’s building at Villa Park, Suarez could push the Midlands side into European contention next year.
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Will he stay at Atletico Madrid?
It doesn’t look likely at all. The very public bust-up between Suarez and Simeone has seen the striker’s playing time decrease rapidly and, despite some kind words from Simeone in press conferences since, it looks as though Suarez will be playing somewhere away from the Spanish capital next season.