Luis Suarez has confirmed that he’ll be staying at Atletico Madrid next season after his goals fired them to their first La Liga title in seven years.
Suarez scored the winner — his 21st league goal of the campaign — in Atletico’s 2-1 comeback victory at Real Valladolid on Saturday, a result that clinched the title ahead of local rivals Real Madrid.
The 34-year-old agreed a two-year contract at Atletico when he joined from Barcelona last September, but sources told ESPN a clause had been included in the deal which would have allowed him to leave on a free transfer this summer.
“Yes, yes, for sure,” Suarez told Movistar on Sunday evening, when asked if he would continue at the club in 2021-22.
Suarez was speaking at Atletico’s title celebrations — held behind closed doors and attended by local government officials — at their Wanda Metropolitano stadium. There was no open-top bus parade to the Neptuno fountain in the centre of Madrid, where Atletico traditionally celebrate their trophy wins, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A day earlier, TV cameras had shown Suarez in tears on the Valladolid pitch during a post-match videocall with his wife and children, before saying that he had been “underestimated” by former club Barcelona.
“My wife is the one who had to go through the situation I experienced last summer with me, taking the decision to leave,” he explained on Sunday. “A change is difficult for a family, with kids who had their lives all set up… She knows how hard I worked to turn the situation around and show that I could still play at a good level.”
Atletico’s title win makes Suarez a five-time La Liga champion — with the four previous trophies coming with Barcelona in 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019 — in just seven seasons in Spain. The Uruguay international was forced out of Camp Nou last summer after being informed by incoming coach Ronald Koeman that he was no longer part of the club’s plans.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone added that he never stopped believing his side would win the La Liga title, even in the midst of a stuttering run of results in April. Simeone said he believed more than ever that his side were going to do it after a 1-1 draw at Real Betis during that stretch.
“Everything clicked after the game with Betis. We had players out with coronavirus and injuries and it was very tough, but after that day I could sense we were close,” he said.
“With four games to go I knew it wasn’t going to slip away from us, even though others were still struggling to believe.”