Football News

“As Koeman says, he’s better than Neymar” — Luis Suarez aims dig at Luuk de Jong’s slow start at Barca

By Ben Green

Published: 18:40, 7 October 2021 | Updated: 20:43, 24 November 2022

Luis Suarez has aimed a thinly-veiled swipe at his centre-forward successor at Barcelona, Luuk de Jong, with the Dutchman struggling to find his rhythm since joining the club from Sevilla in the summer.

Suarez, 34, departed Barca last year after being dumped over the phone by Ronald Koeman in a now-infamous 40-second exchange. Subsequently, he joined Atletico Madrid where his 21 goals last season helped the club win La Liga, their first title since 2014.

The Uruguayan has since hit out at Koeman for the way he handled the situation last summer, accusing the under-fire manager of “lacking the personality” to say to him clearly that he was no longer in his plans, instead dithering and ultimately telling him over the phone.

Since then Barca have endured difficulties both on and off the pitch, with their crippling financial troubles culminating in Lionel Messi leaving the club, and those disruptions away from the field also affecting the players on it, with the club enduring a disastrous start to this season.

Along with Messi, Antoine Griezmann also left the club in the summer, while Sergio Aguero is yet to play for his new club as he continues to nurse an injury, forcing Koeman to sign compatriot De Jong from Sevilla as a stop gap until the Argentine recovers and finds his groove.

Hardly prolific in Andalusia, netting just six La Liga goals in his maiden campaign at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, and only four last season, the 31-year-old has been unable to really get up and running in Catalonia, so far finding the back of the net just once in six appearances across all competitions.

Speaking to Gerard Romero on Twitch, Suarez was asked about De Jong’s slow start at the Camp Nou, to which he responded: “As the coach says, he’s better than Neymar.” The comment was in reference to Koeman’s suggestion that De Jong is a more threatening presence from deliveries than Neymar.

“When there’s a cross, Luuk is more dangerous than Neymar,” Koeman told NOS last month.