Luis Suarez was hurried out the door at Camp Nou this close-season in a fashion that suggested that he was dead and buried as a top-level striker, but his early performances for Atletico Madrid have proved that he’s anything but.
The Uruguayan has five goals and an assist to his name from nine games so far in 2020/21, and his presence has unlocked Portuguese youngster Joao Felix to hit heights that looked impossible for him last season. Angel Correa, Atleti’s Argentine attacker, has also praised his fellow South American for the example he’s been setting on the training ground.
“Suarez is a great forward,” he told Mundo Deportivo. “The numbers speak for themselves. What the team often does is bring a lot of balls into the area, because that’s where he feels most comfortable and that’s where he can win us games. Aside from being a great player, he’s also an excellent person. He’s just one of us, and he works just like one of us. He’s very humble, and that’s something the team notices and appreciates.”
Atleti have been tipped by many to be the best-placed to challenge for the LaLiga title this season. Los Rojiblancos currently sit third, three points off Real Sociedad in first but with two games in hand. For Correa, it’s important to maintain their strong start should they wish to challenge seriously for major honours come the sharp end of the season.
“Last year we had a lot of draws and at the end of the season we regretted it,” he said. “This year we don’t want the same to happen to us. We know what it means to wear the Atletico Madrid shirt, what it means to go out and win every game. That’s our idea – to prepare to go and win every game, and we want to be up there [fighting for honours] until the end. We’re working to do this by improving last year’s numbers, and we’re on the right track.”
Also important for Correa in Atleti’s strong opening to the campaign is the performances of Felix, with the 21 year-old let loose by the presence of the more grizzled Suarez – the Portuguese has scored seven and assisted three from the opening ten. “He’s a crack,” Correa said. “It’s was clear that when he got the continuity and freedom he has now he’d be able to show the kind of player he is. We know that the longer he has the ball the more danger he’s going to create, and that he’s going to do a lot of good for the team.”
Correa has spent the vast majority of his career with Atleti, having joined them from Argentine side San Lorenzo at 20 back in 2015. In his time in the Spanish capital he’s won the Europa League and the European Super Cup, also winning a runners-up medal in the 2016 Champions League final.
Featured image courtesy of Goal.