After an undefeated start to the season, the Barcelona pair were told they would battle for playing time in Diego Simeone’s squad.
Luis Suarez suits like a glove, and even Lionel Messi and former star Antoine Griezmann will face high-flying Atletico Madrid spot competition, Koke says.
The new Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman found Uruguay striker Suarez to be surplus to requirements and joined Atleti for a small fee, despite being third on the Blaugrana’s all-time goalscorers list.
Suarez has five goals and one assist for his new club from six La Liga games, while he has created four opportunities for his team-mates and reached the mark with eight of his 22 shots on goal, including blocked shots.
With two games in hand on the two sides above them in the table, it is formed that has helped undefeated Atleti to third in the table with two games in hand, and after the international break they will meet Barca at home.
The arrival of Suarez has allowed others in the squad, such as Joao Felix, Angel Correa and Marcos Llorente, to flourish, says Atleti midfielder Koke.
“In [our] game, a radical shift hit us,” he told Cadena Ser. “[Having Suarez] in some circumstances leaves Joao, Correa and Llorente free. He suits us like a glove.”
One player Suarez has had minimal playing time with is Diego Costa, with a left thigh injury suffered last month with his fellow Atleti forward out.
“Asked about the link-up, Koke added:” They are two fantastic forwards and together they have to adapt. The team plays well and has more attack solutions.
Although the new attacking crop of Atleti is thriving, Griezmann, who left for Camp Nou before the campaign of 2019-20, has failed to find his best form for Barca.
Griezmann has two goals and an assist and has created four chances in seven top-flight appearances this season, though he missed a penalty in last week’s 5-2 win over Real Betis.
In June, the last time Barca played Atleti, despite the game being locked at 2-2, it took Griezmann until the 90th minute to join the fray, something that took Koke by surprise.
“I was really shocked to see a Griezmann-status player [not playing until] the 90th minute of the last game we played against Barca,” Koke said.
“But when asked about the possibility for a return from Griezmann, Koke added:” Now I think he’d have a lot of competition.
Indeed, such is the power of the forward line of Atleti, Koke believes it would be difficult to get into the side, even superstar Messi, who himself struggled to manipulate a step away from Barca in a long-running saga during the close season.
In Atleti, too, he will have a lot of rivalry, “Koke added.”
Koke is especially pleased to see Llorente continuing to develop at Atleti, with the 25-year-old excelling in a more sophisticated role, scoring three goals and assisting this term with two more.
“He’s doing it all. He’s at a spectacular stage. The job is paying off and he’s working [hard],” Koke said.
“I ‘m happy for him because by not playing, he didn’t have a good time at first, but all effort has its reward. Those who had fewer minutes last year have more this season.”