Soccer

Luis Suarez, Barcelona's 3rd leading scorer all-time, joins rival Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid have signed striker Luis Suarez from Barcelona, the Spanish clubs said on Wednesday, bringing to an end his six-year stint at the Camp Nou.

33-year-old won Champions League, 4 La Liga titles in 6 years at Camp Nou

Luis Suarez, Barcelona's third leading scorer all-time, joined rival Atletico Madrid through transfer on Wednesday. (Manu Fernandez/The Associated Press)

Luis Suarez is staying in Spain after all.

Barcelona said late Wednesday that it reached a deal with Atletico Madrid for the transfer of the Uruguay striker for 6 million euros ($7 million US).

Suarez was let go by Barcelona following six mostly successful seasons in which he won 13 titles with the Catalan club. He leaves as Barcelona's third highest scorer ever with 198 goals, behind Cesar Rodriguez (232) and Lionel Messi (634).

The 33-year-old Suarez had to find a new club after being told by incoming Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman that he was not in his plans. Koeman was asked to revamp the Barcelona squad after the embarrassing 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the Champions League in August. Midfielder Ivan Rakitic already left for Sevilla after also being told he wasn't wanted anymore, and defender Samuel Umtiti is also expected to leave.

Messi, Suarez's longtime friend and teammate, wanted to leave but will stay after the club denied his request for a free transfer at the end of last season.

Barcelona said it wanted to publicly express its "gratitude to Luis Suarez for his commitment and dedication," and wished him "all the best for the future."

The club said Suarez will give a news conference on Thursday. He reportedly bid farewell to his teammates earlier Wednesday.

Spanish media said Barcelona had initially made an agreement with Suarez to allow him to leave for free, but later backtracked after it became known that he wanted to go to rival Atletico. Suarez's lawyers had been negotiating with the Catalan club since Tuesday to try to make his move to Atletico possible.

Suarez, who arrived in Barcelona from Liverpool in 2014, will be joining Atletico's Argentine coach Diego Simeone, who has always praised Suarez and is also known to carry the same hard-working, never-give-up attitude as the Uruguayan striker.

Suarez had initially looked set to join Juventus in Italy, and had even taken a test to receive a European passport that could help him complete the move. But the deal fell through because the passport process reportedly would take too long, and Juventus decided to go after Atletico's Alvaro Morata, opening space for Suarez in Simeone's squad.

Simeone still has Diego Costa and Joao Felix as its main attackers, but the duo only scored 14 goals combined for Atletico last season, seven fewer than Suarez scored for Barcelona.

The Catalan club had already added young Portugal forward Francisco Trincao this season. It still has Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele and youngster Ansu Fati, who on Wednesday was officially added to the first team and had his buyout clause increased from 170 million euros ($199 million) to 400 million euros ($469 million). Martin Braithwaite also is an option for Koeman up front, and the club reportedly was looking to eventually sign forwards Memphis Depay and Lautaro Martinez.

Atletico will make its Spanish league debut on Sunday against Granada at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. Atletico's first two games were postponed because it played late into last season in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

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