Recent rumors are out that this could be the last season for Barcelona striker Luis Suarez at the Camp Nou if the club insists on signing Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann in the coming summer transfer window.
Local Spanish outlet Diario Gol (h/t Daily Star) reported the possibility, saying that the 31-year-old Suarez is “determined not to lose his place in the team” as he and Griezmann may share the same position on the field if he arrives. The report noted that Suarez has the support of Barca main man Lionel Messi, who reportedly asserted that he “does not want anyone arriving at the club who could overshadow his pal.”
Suarez and Messi are close friends off the pitch and have been playing together for four seasons since Barca acquired the Uruguay international from Liverpool in July of 2014.
There are reports that Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde is looking to upgrade the team’s attacking options for next season despite their great showing this year.
The Blaugrana is on track to win the Spanish top flight title this season, having a tight hold on the top spot of the table with 59 points, seven points ahead of second-running team Atletico Madrid and 17 points in front of arch-rivals Real Madrid with only 15 matchdays left.
Griezmann, 26, has been the top prospect of several big-name clubs, including Real Madrid and the two Manchester teams of the English Premier League, in the last few transfer windows. Manchester United was rumored to be set to battle Barca for the France international’s release clause of $122 million this summer, but with the recent acquisition of Alexis Sanchez, Jose Mourinho has reportedly gone content with his current forward lineup, as per the Daily Express.
FanSided‘s Everything Barca said that with Suarez slowing down because of his age, the club’s natural path would be to sign a younger forward that could continue to pile up goals for the squad. Griezmann is known not only for his goalscoring acumen but also for his playmaking skills that could complement well with Messi in the wing.
However, the blog said that Suarez’s deep connection with Barcelona fans “would not allow the management to get rid of him in the summer” and the coaching staff may just give him a lesser role moving forward.
Suarez and his friend Messi are reportedly not satisfied with such a setup that the former would rather leave the team rather than play second fiddle to Griezmann, the blog noted.