Luis Suarez joins Barcelona: Liverpool striker is '100%' a Barcelona player, says director of sport Andoni Zubizarreta ahead of official £75m move
Suarez has completed his move to Barcelona after agreeing terms with the Spanish club
Wednesday 16 July 2014
Barcelona have completed the signing of Luiz Suarez in a mammoth £75m deal from Liverpool after the club confirmed he is “100 per cent” a Barcelona player, having travelled to Spain in order to agree personal terms on his transfer..
An agreement was reached last Friday that saw Barcelona activate a £75m release clause in the Uruguayan’s contract.
But the problem for the Catalan club remains how they can unveil him, given that he is serving a four-month ban from all football-related activity except completing a transfer after he was found guilty of biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini.
Despite the problems, Barcelona director of sport Andoni Zubizarreta, who has spoken very positively of Suarez throughout the biting saga, is reported to have said: “He is 100 per cent a member of the club.”
Zubizarreta revealed that the club had been advised to be "discreet" about his signing given the current legal process of his ban, which is set to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
"Luis Suarez is a Barcelona player for all purposes but the recommendation from our lawyers has been to remain discreet," said Zubizarreta, who was asked whether the club were making moves to reduce the ban.
"Our lawyers tell us that we should be very prudent with what we say and your question is asking about something that's could only happen after certain verdicts have been reached.
"Then we'll be able to explain things better.
"But it's fact, it's true. He's 100 per cent a member of the club.
"We're speaking to our lawyers to find out the best way of defending his rights but at the moment there's nothing I can say about that."
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The announcement comes after president Josep Bartomeu admitted he was "convinced" that Suarez would have his four-month ban reduced, with the complete suspension from all forms of football meaning he can't step foot in any stadiums - such as the Nou Camp - to be unveiled by the club.
An official announcement on the club’s website is expected to come today.
The confirmation of the acquisition of Suarez comes in a busy summer for Barcelona, as they have already appointed a new manager in Enrique as well as three other key signings.
Enrique replaced Gerardo Martino at the end of the season, and the club moved quickly to bring in young German goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen from Borussia Monchengladback. Claudio Bravo quickly followed after the completion of Chile's World Cup campaign, while Ivan Rakitic joined from Spanish rivals Seville.
Read more: Bartomeu 'convinced' Suarez ban will be reduced
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However, the priority is now to replace the retired Carlos Puyol with another centre-back, as Zubizaretta explained.
"We're working on that at the moment," Zubizarreta added. "We thought we were going to have four centre-backs because we thought Puyol would be with us but he's not and we have to cover that position.
"Obviously we're working on buying players and we're hoping to announce a centre-back soon.
Suarez' bite on Chiellini was one of the major talking points of the World Cup "About 90 per cent of clubs in Europe have the same problem, it's a position everyone is working on.
"We're working in the market and we haven't come to a definitive decision on some players we were hoping to sign.
"The only high-profile centre-back that's been signed is David Luiz, who's moved to Paris St Germain.
"It's not easy to find centre-backs who are better than the ones we've got and if we could find them then we would sign them."
Enrique admitted that he has been in constant communication with the club's board regarding new additions to the squad, which will welcome back Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano in the next few weeks after they suffered World Cup heartbreak in the final defeat to Germany.
"We've been working hard and we've been in contact the whole time," he said of his relationship with the board.
"It's not just a question of going to the supermarket and taking players home, it's a complicated process.
"I know I've got a good group of players including one of the best players in the world.
"My objective is to get the best out of all the players in my squad. All managers want to have the best players that they possibly can.
"When I joined Barca I knew what players we had and we've been strengthening and I'm really happy.
"My target is to put a team together that is as competitive as possible."
Enrique also confirms he is looking to persuade veteran midfielder Xavi into staying at the Nou Camp, despite reports linking him with a fresh challenge in the Middle East.
"Yes I've spoken to Xavi and it's a matter that hasn't been decided yet," Enrique said. "He has a contract with the club and we're waiting to see what decision he comes to.
"He's a player for whom I have a lot of respect."
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