The Uruguayan joined Atleti from Barcelona this past close season and has started quickly, grabbing a brace on his debut and five goals from his first nine games.
Suarez has combined this with strong form for his country, scoring his 63rd international goal in Uruguay’s 3-0 defeat of Colombia in Barranquilla last week and overtaking Ronaldo Nazario in terms of international goals scored.
El Pistolero had been written off by many at Camp Nou as being past his best but has looked revitalised since joining Diego Simeone‘s potent combination of grit and guile in the Spanish capital.
“I’m not surprised. From the outside I could already see it,” Suarez told MARCA about Simeone’s renowned intensity. “It surprises me that the players continue with that sense of conviction even though he’s been there for so long.
“They continue working hard, and if one isn’t playing they support those who are. That’s all generated by the coach and his spirit, something that he spreads to all of us. It creates an atmosphere of healthy competition that improves each player.”
Of key importance to Suarez and Atleti’s strong start has been the partnership the veteran has developed with 21 year-old Joao Felix, one of the most highly touted talents in the European game. His presence has freed the Portuguese to perform.
“We have to enjoy a player who’s been growing a lot, who can do great things,” Suarez said of his teammate. “Joao must be made to see also that all the responsibility doesn’t fall on him.
“There are eleven on a team, and it’s everyone’s responsibility. You have to enjoy your development, and be patient. He’s hungry and he wants to achieve great things personally and with the group.”
Regarding the immediate future, Suarez was bullish. The Uruguayan appeared intent to underline that, at 33, he still has a lot to offer, and the environment of collective strength at the Wanda Metropolitano is the best place to showcase that.
“My greatest desire is to achieve important things with Atletico,” he said. “I don’t care if I score. I want Atletico to win, that’s what interests me.
“It makes groups strong that we are all equal. It’s like what I mentioned about Joao earlier – you have to enjoy a player who has a lot of quality and who makes a difference, but who, when it comes to living within a group, has the same responsibility as everyone.
“My way of being has always been without airs. I’m just ambitious and looking to contribute what I can.”
Atleti’s next fixture after the international break sees them welcome Suarez’s old club, Barcelona, to Madrid. The clash will be an interesting insight into how far the club and their new striker have come – and how far they could still go.
Featured image courtesy of The Score.