Suarez bites into deal at Barcelona
Spanish giants reach agreement with Liverpool for transfer of striker despite furore over Uruguayan chomping into World Cup rival
Barcelona said on Friday they had struck a deal to buy Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez from Liverpool, sealing the transfer despite an uproar over him biting a World Cup rival.
Amid the furore that saw him sent home from the World Cup, Barcelona pushed ahead to sign the 27-year-old goalscorer reportedly on condition that he apologise for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini.
"FC Barcelona and Liverpool FC have reached an agreement for the transfer of Luis Suarez," the Spanish club said.
Spanish newspapers reported that Barcelona paid €81 million (HK$854 million) for the player while British media put the sum at £75 million (HK$994 million).
Suarez's signing furnishes the Catalan club with one of the most formidable strike forces in the world as he joins two other superstar forwards - Argentina's Lionel Messi and Brazil's Neymar.
Suarez said a sad farewell to fans of the English club, whom he helped fire to second place in the Premier League last season, sending them into the Champions League. "It is with a heavy heart that I leave Liverpool for a new life and new challenges in Spain," he said in a statement published by Liverpool.
"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."
Barcelona said Suarez "will be travelling to Barcelona next week for a medical, to sign his five-year contract and to be officially presented to the media and fans as an FC Barcelona player".
Suarez was the top scorer in England's Premier League last season with 31 goals.
"Luis Suarez is one of the most productive strikers in European football," Barca said.
"The 15th Uruguayan to play for FC Barcelona is not just a prolific scorer, he also has a strong competitive spirit and a powerful figure, and he's coming to Barca in search of even more."
Suarez bit Chiellini on June 24 in a 1-0 win over Italy, which took Uruguay into the World Cup last 16 before they were knocked out by Colombia.
He was handed a four-month ban from all football activities, suspended from nine international matches and fined 100,000 Swiss francs (HK$869,000). It was the third time in his career he had been found guilty of biting an opponent.
He apologised for the bite in a Twitter message on June 30.
On Thursday, Fifa dismissed appeals by Uruguay and Suarez over the ban, but said he could still appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Meanwhile, Barcelona also completed the sale of Chile's World Cup star Alexis Sanchez to Premier League club Arsenal.