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Barcelona claim they can handle Suarez 'imperfections'

ESPN staff
July 16, 2014
Suarez arrives at in-laws in Barcelona

Barcelona's director of football Andoni Zubizarreta says they can handle Luis Suarez's "imperfections" after claiming the striker is "100 per cent" part of the club.

Post-Suarez era begins with defeat

Brendan Rodgers watches on from the dugout © Getty Images
  • Liverpool began life after Luis Suarez with a 2-1 pre-season defeat to Brondby in Denmark.
  • A Liverpool side shorn of its World Cup stars and featuring several young prospects lost out to a 91st minute winner from Ferhan Hasani, after Kristoffer Peterson had cancelled out Christian Norgaard's opener for the hosts.

Suarez arrived in Spain on Tuesday to complete the formalities of his £75 million move from Liverpool after both parties reached an agreement last week. However, the striker's four month ban imposed by FIFA has prevented Barcelona publicly unveiling him as their player and Zubizarreta's statement is the first official word that the deal is complete.

"He is 100% a member of the club," Zubizarreta said. "Luis Suarez is a Barca player to all extents and purposes. It is fact but the recommendation from our lawyers has been to remain discreet.

"Our lawyers tell us that we should be very prudent with what we say and your question is asking about something that could only happen after certain verdicts have been reached.

"Then we'll be able to explain things better. We're speaking to our lawyers to find out the best way of defending his rights but at the moment there's nothing I can say about that."

Barcelona may still lodge an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over the severity of Suarez's ban, which is from all football-related activity after he bit Italy's Giorgio Chiellini during last month's World Cup.

At present, he is unable to train with his new teammates, who began their pre-season preparations under new manager Luis Enrique yesterday. Zubizarreta insists, however, that Suarez will be a positive player for the club despite the added baggage he brings after a career littered with controversy.

A shirt of new Barcelona signing Luis Suarez is on display at the club's official store © Getty Images

"We accept people here, imperfections and all," he said. "We know they get things right and we know they get things wrong; people need to learn when they get things wrong. That is one of the values at our club. We have had bad things and good things and always learn from them.

"I am sure Luis Suarez will be someone positive for us for the future. Luis Suarez is an important player for this club but the club is more than its players."

Barcelona have sold both Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas this summer as they look to rebuild after a trophy-less campaign last year and the acquisition of Suarez has lifted a weight off Enrique's shoulders as he looks to make an instant impact as manager.

Suarez was last season's top scorer in the Premier League and is expected to wear the number nine shirt at the Nou Camp. Enrique revealed he wants his side to play free-flowing attacking football.

"Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi, Neymar? Coaches want to have the best players and the more the better. I'm delighted to have them," Enrique said after criticism from Johan Cruyff that individual stars will wreck the Barca team ethic.

"My target is to put a team together which is as competitive as possible. It is not about just two or three players it is the whole team. But the better the players we sign, then great."

The departure of Sanchez and Fabregas has been offset by Enrique's recruitment of Croatian playmaker Ivan Rakitic and now Suarez, but their defensive ranks remain threadbare as they've been left frustrated in their search for a "high-profile" centre-back.

"We're working on that at the moment," Zubizarreta added. "We thought we were going to have four centre-backs because we thought [Carles] Puyol would be with us but he's not and we have to cover that position.

"Obviously we're working on buying players and we're hoping to announce a centre-back soon. About 90 per cent of clubs in Europe have the same problem, it's a position everyone is working on.

"The only high-profile centre-back that's been signed is David Luiz, who's moved to Paris St Germain [from Chelsea]. It's not easy to find centre-backs who are better than the ones we've got and if we could find them then we would sign them."

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