At the end of the season, the Argentine phenomenon is free to leave Camp Nou, but his former team-mate would not encourage him to move to the Spanish capital.
Luis Suarez is not going to try to persuade Lionel Messi to join Atletico Madrid, but if the Barcelona captain were to make it happen, he would gladly support the move.
In the close season, Messi struggled to engineer a move away from Camp Nou, and his future at Barca remains unclear, with his contract expiring at the end of June.
The interim board of the club and several presidential candidates have indicated that a projected loss of income in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic means that a pay adjustment will need to be decided by the six-time Ballon d’Or winner to continue beyond this campaign.
One of the driving factors behind Messi’s decision to depart before the start of the season was assumed to be the care of close friend Suarez, who supported him with more Barca goals (47) than any other player, following the appointment of Ronald Koeman.
Suarez was considered to be a surplus of requirements and sent off for a small fee to Atletico, but he does not plan to go out of his way to have Messi follow him.
“I’ll always say it: Leo is smart enough to make the choices he wants to make on his own. I’m never going to try to control what he does; I’m always going to respect his right to make the best decision for him wherever he’s happy,” Suarez told AS.
If the possibility emerges at some stage, then he can say so, as I would obviously speak to the club very highly of him.
“But as far as proposing things to him is concerned, I think he’s the one who has to make those choices, and the safest place for him to be is wherever he’s happiest.”
In nine appearances in all competitions this season, Messi is yet to score from open play and Koeman defended the Argentina international this week after a video of him struggling to close down an attacker in the final moments of Barca’s 2-1 Champions League win over Dynamo Kiev went viral on social media.
“Asked if Messi looked low on morale, Suarez said,” Thirty-three years old, he knows how to deal with any situation.
He seems to me to have the same passion as he had before, to love his football and to fight as hard as ever, which is the important thing. And if the ball does not want to go in, he wants to try. That says a lot of things about him.
In all competitions, last season, Messi’s haul of 31 goals, 15 of which were scored after Quique Setien replaced Ernesto Valverde as head coach in January, was his worst tally since he recorded 16 in 2007-08.
Suarez said, “I would rather not get into that, because it just serves to turn it into a bigger problem than it should be.”
Any teammate who worked with Leo will speak highly of him, what a class player he is and what a top man he’s away from the pitch. He’s always helping the young people, giving them guidance.
Any player who worked with him speaks highly of him. That says a lot about the kind of player in that dressing room and the person he is.