Luis Suarez finally received his official unveiling as a Barcelona player on Tuesday, and the Catalan giants instantly caused a stir by claiming the Uruguayan striker cost £65 million to prise away from Liverpool, contradicting the English club's indication that they received £75 million for his sale.
Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC reported the fee announced at Suarez's first press conference, while Bleacher Report UK noted Suarez's own admission that he could have moved elsewhere for more money:
Barca saying Suarez fee was 81 million euros / 65 million pounds.— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) August 19, 2014
Luis Suarez 'had better financial offers' than joining Barcelona, who confirm he cost €81m (£65m) at his unveiling pic.twitter.com/bpwbL0xrav— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) August 19, 2014
Suarez's presentation to the press comes more than a month after he agreed to join the Catalan club. Although still working through the four-month ban implemented after he bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup, the Court of Arbitration for Sport recently allowed Suarez to train with his teammates.
While the independent body didn't alter FIFA's main charge, Suarez's unveiling was only allowed to go ahead when the CAS confirmed he can take part in non-competitive footballing activity, per Dominic King of the Daily Mail.
News of Suarez's transfer fee matches with the reported £65 million buyout clause Liverpool are said to have implemented during his last Anfield contract. That said, Barca vice-president Jordi Mestre indicated the buyout clause was higher and that Liverpool accepted a lower offer, per Corrigan:
Barca VP Mestre sticking firm on fee “Clause was 75 million pounds, after talks & as Suarez wanted to come here, we agreed 65 million"— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) August 19, 2014
The sum is far away from the £100 million Brendan Rodgers once suggested Suarez could command, and also falls £10 million short of what Suarez's original fee was widely thought to be.
Tony Barrett of the Telegraph underlines the confusion:
Barca confirm Suarez's release clause was £75m but claim they paid £65m. Liverpool insist it was £75m. Anyone seen the receipt?!— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarretTimes) August 19, 2014
This nonsense is why it would be much better for everyone if there was transparency over transfer fees.— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarretTimes) August 19, 2014
Either way, Barcelona have placed Suarez's Camp Nou buyout clause at a profitable margin, per Corrigan:
To clear up - €94m figure mentioned by Mestre earlier was Suarez past clause at Liverpool. New clause now €200m [ahem @benlyt ]— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) August 19, 2014
The prolific striker, who notched 31 goals for Liverpool last season, made his debut appearance for the club during Barca's Gamper Cup win against Mexican outfit Leon on Monday night. He didn't score, but was able to secure a useful appearance in front of a home crowd who will likely adore his skills across the next few seasons.
Suarez was allowed to appear in this fixture due to it not being a registered competitive match, meaning it doesn't violate the terms of his ban.
Andoni Zubizarreta, sporting director at Barca, confirmed Suarez's punishment hasn't affected the player's desire to do well. Corrigan tweeted his comments:
Zubizarreta says Suarez is a "competitive" and "committed" player "as we saw with Uruguay at the World Cup"— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) August 19, 2014
Zubi again: "Luis Suarez is used to dealing with pressure and maximum demands"— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) August 19, 2014
Zubi: “When we first met with Luis Enrique and spoke about forwards we had analysed Luis Suarez was the first name which came up.”— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) August 19, 2014
Suarez spoke passionately about the Blaugrana and suggested he will continue to work hard during his ban, per Corrigan:
Suarez: "I want to thank club for helping me fulfill dream of playing here at Barcelona which I've held for many years.”— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) August 19, 2014
Suarez: “The dream of playing for Barca comes from many years ago, as a kid. Everyone knows my relationship with family living here."— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) August 19, 2014
Suarez: “For me the stars are in the sky. For me it is about bringing something to help the team win things."— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) August 19, 2014
Suarez: "There is a long time to go before then [debut]. It is up to me to work hard to be ready for the day when I can make my debut."— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) August 19, 2014
Suarez is banned until Oct. 25, the weekend which so happens to place Barcelona against Real Madrid in El Clasico. The exact fixture date is yet to be confirmed—it will either be the 25th or 26th—but Suarez can only feature if it's the latter. Madrid were rumoured to be in for the player, but could become the first team Suarez faces on the competitive stage in Spain.
He acknowledged other offers were made during the summer, although failed to confirm exactly where they came from, per Corrigan:
Suarez asked if he had offer from Madrid “There were options to sign for other teams, but once Barca interested there were no doubts.”— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) August 19, 2014
Suarez's decision to bite Chiellini may have put potential suitors off. He indicated professional help has been sought after receiving his third career charge for such an incident, per Corrigan:
Suarez asked if he was receiving help to control himself [not bite again] "That is something personal, but I've dealt with professionals.”— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) August 19, 2014
Suarez thinking of the children "I say to the fans not to worry as it [bite] will not happen again."— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) August 19, 2014
The 27-year-old striker is expected to be a major hit at Barcelona, where he can form a mouthwatering trio alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar. Although it is likely Suarez will have to play wide of the Argentinian, he flitted between central and winger roles under Rodgers at Liverpool.
Suarez's elusiveness and energy can make him a hero at Barcelona. He is the type of player who is capable of anything at any moment, whether it's sticking the ball in from 35 yards or bringing his game into disrepute via a moment of petulance. He can certainly lead Barca toward another era of success, if he remains focused.