Thomas Tuchel has revealed that he tried to sign Luis Suarez when the forward left Barcelona last summer ahead of Chelsea’s attempt to quell the Atletico Madrid striker in the Champions League round of 16.
Suarez has been in outstanding form for Atletico Madrid since Barcelona allowed him to walk away for free last summer, a decision that prompted a scramble across Europe to secure the services of a player who scored over 20 goals in each of the last eight seasons. For a time it seemed the Uruguayan was destined for Juventus but his services were subsequently secured by Diego Simeone’s side, for whom he has found the net 16 times already this season to propel Atleti to the top of La Liga.
At the time Tuchel was in charge of PSG and he has confirmed that his side were also in the mix for Suarez, who would have added even greater potency to an attack that already contained Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Mauro Icardi.
“There was a possibility, we heard the rumors that he was about to leave Barcelona,” said Tuchel. “Who could not be interested to sign one of the best strikers in world football in history and the present?
“We tried our luck. We did not make it. He chose to stay in Spain and change for Atletico. Again he has proved his quality. He’s a natural striker, born as a striker. He has the certain mentality that only strikers have, this mentality to show his will, intensity and anger; to score, to score and to score. He is never satisfied.
“What a mentality. What a player. I’m not involved in his history with Chelsea [Suarez was banned for 10 matches for biting Branislav Ivanovic in 2013] and for me it’s never a good thing to look too far behind. We look up front and to play him tomorrow. We know about his qualities. We will be very aware of it and we will try to hold him back from scoring.”
Asked whether he might be tempted to revive his interest in Suarez at Chelsa, Tuchel laughed off the question before adding: “I don’t know. It was the particular moment and it would have maybe been a fit to our squad in Paris. Now things are different.
“We have not spent one second [thinking about it] and I think he’s under contract. It’s not worth thinking about it and I haven’t. The possibility is high that we will not think about it.”
Suarez may have only scored two goals in nine meetings with the Blues but he has enjoyed plenty of success in recent encounters with Chelsea, providing two assists in a 3-0 win at the Nou Camp in 2018 that took Barcelona into the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Though the Uruguayan is enduring a three match goalless streak as Atletico wobble in La Liga’s title race he had scored seven in four games beforehand and Cesar Azpilicueta believes it will take the entire Chelsea team to quell Suarez.
“The best way to defend him is to keep him as far as possible from the goal,” said the Chelsea captain. “That’s a collective job, obviously as defenders we know that. Personally I faced him when he was in Liverpool, when he was in Barcelona in the Champions League.
“He’s a great striker. We know his numbers. Wherever he has played he has scored lots of goals. We try to defend him as a collective, try to control the game and try to get the attacking players as far as possible from our goal.”