• La Liga

Suarez warned he'll be a marked man at Barca

ESPN staff
July 7, 2014
Luis Suarez ban extends to training, FIFA confirm

Former Barcelona anti-hero Hristo Stoichkov has told Luis Suarez that "the bites will be a problem" if he joins the La Liga giants this summer, as opponents on the pitch and in the media will try and provoke him into offending again.

Suarez is widely expected to swap Liverpool for Spain in the coming days for a fee of up to £80 million, despite being currently suspended from all football activity for four months for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini while playing for Uruguay at the current World Cup.

The 27 year old had previously served two suspensions for biting at club level when playing for Liverpool and Ajax, and was also banned for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra during a Premier League game.

Suarez has complained about the reaction to his behaviour in England and claimed his goals at the World Cup were effectively his revenge.

But Stoichkov, the ex-Bulgaria international who was also a talented attacker with regular rage control problems on the pitch, told Sport that Suarez would be a marked man in future even if he flees to Spain.

Deulofeu welcomes 'interesting' Suarez

Deulofeu spent last season at Everton © PA Photos
  • Luis Suarez's potential Barcelona team-mate Gerard Deulofeu has joined a long list of Camp Nou figures to welcome the impending transfer.
  • "I believe [Suarez] is a very interesting player," Deulofeu said in Mundo Deportivo. "For me he is one of the best forwards in the world. If it works out he would be a great signing."
  • The winger, who is returning to the Nou Camp after a season on loan at Liverpool's city rivals Everton, said he was looking forward to the challenge of taking on Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar for a first team starting spot.
  • "Yes, these are the best players around, but I have a lot of confidence in myself," he said. "I believe in my chances, and that working day to day I can achieve my goals."

"I have read about the transfer," Stoichkov said. "He seems a really good player to me, one of the best forwards, with the character required to play for the biggest clubs.

"But the bites are going to be a problem - he is marked for the rest of his life. To play at Barca with what he has done is a problem. All opponents, the referees and the press will make his life difficult. He will have to play with provocation and media attention which will leave him in permanent tension."

Stoichkov - who infamously stamped on the foot of referee Ildefonso Urizar Azpitarte during a match against Real Madrid in December 1990 - said after that incident he faced extra provocation from both opponents and journalists, and expected Suarez would have to deal with similar situations from now on.

"I made a mistake with the stamp on Urizar and what came afterwards was very hard," he added. "What is going to come to Luis Suarez will be the same. Opposition players will provoke you, they will look for violent reactions, try to get you out of the game.

"And if you are hot-blooded … Well, sometimes it takes a lot to control yourself. Plus, referees are more worried about your reaction than what they say to you.

"Every game is a psychological war. And then there is the journalism, which also puts on pressure so that you can make some good copy. It is not easy. You must be a bit special to live with that."

Stoichkov also claimed that Suarez should now concentrate on getting counselling to overcome his tendency to lose control on the pitch, while others focused on getting his ban reduced so he could return to play as soon as possible.

He said: "I say to Luis Suarez that he should try and fix his problem, and fight to achieve his dreams.

"Now he can rest, free himself mentally from the mistake at the World Cup and think all will go well.

"It is clear that if he has bitten three times there is something which is not working and must be sorted out. I know he has already worked on his aspect, and must keep doing it because at Barca he will have to live under pressure 24 hours a day and, of course, he cannot make that mistake again.

"Now, despite everything, he must be positive. His agent and the lawyers can work on his punishment. I believe it will be smaller in the end."

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