Suarez asks Pool fans to understand his move to Barca
New Barca signing Suarez says he could not turn down 'lifelong dream' to play and live in Spain
Striker Luis Suarez asked for understanding from Liverpool fans after his £75 million ($159m) move to Barcelona was confirmed yesterday.
The Uruguay international brought the brilliant and bizarre to Anfield during his three-and-a-half-year stay, in which controversy was never far away.
Suarez scored 82 goals in 133 appearances, and departs after arguably the best season of his career, with 31 goals in 33 league matches, making him a Kop idol.
However, he has infuriated those same supporters with two lengthy suspensions - totalling 18 games for racially abusing Patrice Evra and biting Branislav Ivanovic - and tarnished his reputation further by trying to force a move away last summer.
Had he succeeded in pushing through a transfer to Arsenal then - especially on the back of their cheeky and misguided £40,000,001 bid - it is doubtful whether the fans would have welcomed him back from suspension as warmly as they did last season.
But, this time, acceptance was more widespread.
"I hope you can all understand why I have made this decision," Suarez said in a statement, after the Reds announced they had agreed a club-record deal with Barcelona.
"This club did all they could to get me to stay but, playing and living in Spain, where my wife's family live, is a lifelong dream and ambition. I believe now the timing is right.
"It is with a heavy heart that I leave Liverpool for a new life, and new challenges, in Spain.
"Both me and my family have fallen in love with this club and with the city but, most of all, I have fallen in love with the incredible fans.
"You have always supported me and we, as a family, will never forget it, we will always be Liverpool supporters.
"I am very proud I have played my part in helping to return Liverpool to the elite of the Premier League and, in particular, back into the Champions League.
"Thank you again, for some great moments and memories. You'll Never Walk Alone."
Suarez is currently serving a four-month ban from all football-related activities for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup, but that does not extend to transfers.
The 27-year-old will undergo a medical in Catalonia next week before signing a five-year contract, although Barcelona have to address the issue of how to parade him to their fans as the Nou Camp - the usual venue for such occasions - is off limits to the Uruguay international as his suspension incorporates all grounds.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers remains positive they will cope without the brilliance of Suarez.
"Luis is a very special talent, and I thank him for the role he has played in the team in the past two years, during my time at Liverpool," he told liverpoolfc.com.
"I think he would be the first to accept he has improved as a player over that period, along with the team, and has benefited from being here as we have benefited from him.
"The club have done all they can over a sustained period of time to try to keep Luis at Liverpool.
"It is with great reluctance, and following lengthy discussions, we have eventually agreed to his wishes to move to Spain for new experiences and challenges.
"We wish him and his young family well; we will always consider them to be friends."
Rodgers now has the job of filling the world-class void left by Suarez.
He had hoped to persuade Alexis Sanchez to move in the opposite direction as a makeweight, but the Chile striker signed for Arsenal on Thursday.
This means the Reds boss has the full cash amount of the club-record transfer to spend, and has been linked with Ivory Coast international Wilfried Bony from his former club Swansea.
Swans chairman Huw Jenkins has accused the Reds of going behind his back in approaching the 25-year-old, but sources at Anfield insist that is not the case.
Rodgers has a very good relationship with Jenkins after they worked together closely during his time at the Liberty Stadium, so any alleged underhand tactics would be in stark contrast to their previous dealings over midfielder Joe Allen.
"I was very surprised and disappointed to hear that Liverpool had gone down that route, and were talking to the player behind my club's back," Jenkins told the Daily Mail.
"I'm disappointed that Liverpool are acting in that manner. No official approach has been made to me or our football club."
However, club insiders have dismissed the allegations, stressing there has been no contact with the player.
- PA Sport.
This club (Liverpool) did all they could to get me to stay but, playing and living in Spain, where my wife’s family live, is a lifelong dream and ambition. I believe now the timing is right.
— Luis Suarez, on why he is joining Barcelona from Liverpool