FC Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta and new signing Ivan Rakitic have praised Liverpool striker Luis Suarez after the controversial figure apologised for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup.
Suarez, a reported transfer target for Barcelona, has been banned from all football-related activities for four months and will be unable to represent Uruguay for nine competitive international matches. He has also been handed an €80,000 fine.
After initially denying biting Chiellini, Suarez released the following statement via Twitter: “After several days being home with my family. I have had the opportunity to regain my calm and reflect on the reality of what occurred on during the Italy-Uruguay match.
“Independent from the fallout and contradicting declarations that have surfaced during these past few days, all of which have been without the intention of interfering with the good performance of my national team, the truth is my colleague Giorgio Chiellini suffered the physical result of a bite in the collision he suffered with me.
“For this I deeply regret what occurred, apologise to Giorgio Chiellini and the entire football family and I vow to the public there will never be another incident like it.”
Recent reports have suggested Barcelona are prepared to offer Suarez a five-year worth £160,000-a -week, but if and only if he agrees to a ‘bite clause,’ per The Mirror.
Amid this speculation, Barca supremo Zubizarreta said: “From my point of view Luis Suarez is not something to be analysed in connection with Barcelona. We always try to be as respectful as we can to other clubs, as I expect other clubs to be respectful towards us,” he said.
“I think we know about the circumstances that happened in the World Cup and he’s had the character and humility to first recognise that he made a mistake.
“I think that’s very important. He had the honour to come out and apologise to the people who had been hurt by his actions; the opposition and also football in general in the middle of a world football festival.
“Now it’s time for him to begin his recovery process. I think Luis Suarez did the best thing as a person and I also think as a footballer. What path he now takes, whether he stays at Liverpool or goes somewhere else, we will see.
“But at the moment he’s a Liverpool player that’s the reality. I have to say the statement does him a lot of honour.”
In addition, the club’s new signing Ivan Rakitic, who officially joined from Sevilla on a five-year deal for a fee believed to be in the region of €20 million today, added: “To have the character and strength to apologise in front of the world shows what a noble person he is.
“Not every person has that strength to admit they have done something stupid. I rarely say that I am wrong so this says a lot about him, he has shown the character and strength he has so he should be commended for that.
“Regardless of whether the club signs him or not, his quality is unquestionable. He has shown a lot of quality with Uruguay and scored more than 30 goals [last season] with Liverpool, so he has the necessary quality to play for Barca.”
Suarez, who arrived on Merseyside from Ajax for £22.8 million in January 2011, tallied 31 goals and 12 assists in 33 English Premier League appearances for Liverpool last season, helping the club secure a second-place finish and a place in the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League.
Now then, should Barcelona pay between £60 million to £80 million to lure Suarez to the Nou Camp this summer?