Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez has claimed Barcelona forced him out of the club because of his close relationship with Lionel Messi.
Suarez, 33, joined Atletico Madrid last month in a deal worth £5.5million after six successful years at the Catalan club.
Barcelona justified his departure as something of a cost-cutting measure to reduce their wage bill having taken a large financial hit during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Messi was outspoken about the nature of Suarez’s departure, saying the striker was ‘thrown out’ by the club.
And now Suarez has now suggested the real reason he was forced out of Barcelona was because he was too close to Messi, who had tried to leave earlier in the summer.
“There are a lot of contradictions [in Barcelona’s version of events],” Suarez told ESPN.
“I would have looked for a solution if it was a financial problem and if it was a sporting issue I could have understood. It is not clear to me why they took the decision they took.
“I think they wanted to remove me from Messi’s side. Maybe it annoyed them that I had a good relationship with Leo.
“Perhaps they didn’t want him to be with me so much. I can’t find any reason to think that would damage the team, though.
“We looked for each other constantly on the pitch, but for the good of the team. Maybe they wanted him to play with more team-mates.
“That could have something to do with it. I can’t find any other reason to want to separate us because we got on well on the pitch.”
Messi tried to force his way out of Barcelona during a turbulent summer but eventually gave in to avoid a huge legal battle with the club, which disputed the eligibility of his release clause.
Suarez, however, believes ‘they should have respected his decision to leave.’
It came as the Uruguayan revealed players – including himself – were made to train alone by coach Ronald Koeman if they were not considered for a game.
Suarez also revealed he ‘spent days crying’ after being forced out of the club.