Montevideo (AFP) – Luis Suarez has signed a short-term contract to rejoin his boyhood club Nacional in Uruguay ahead of the World Cup in Qatar, the club’s president said on Wednesday.
Suarez revealed on social media on Tuesday that he had a preliminary agreement to return to the outfit where he started his career and on Wednesday, Nacional president Jose Fuentes told Sport 890 radio station that the 35-year-old star has signed a five-month contract.
Suarez and the club president both said on Tuesday that some details still needed to be ironed out but Fuentes told Sport 890: “It’s already done, it’s already resolved.”
The former Liverpool and Barcelona star is Uruguay’s all-time top goalscorer and set to compete at his fourth World Cup later this year.
Fuentes said Suarez should arrive in Uruguay this weekend and could make his debut as early as Tuesday in the Copa Sudamericana — South America’s equivalent to the Europa League — against Brazilians Atletico Goianiense.
The president said Suarez had received several other offers “but he told me that he had decided to come to Nacional.”
Suarez was believed to be intent on remaining in Europe but was looking for a club that could guarantee him first team football in the build up to the World Cup, due to kick-off on November 21.
Three clubs in Turkey and one in Italy were reported to be after the high profile forward, while there were also said to be offers from Major League Soccer and River Plate in Argentina.
But fans of Nacional had flooded social media with a massive campaign to convince the prodigal son to return.
Last Thursday in a match against Cerrito, 15,000 Nacional fans donned Suarez face masks and began applauding after nine minutes — in reference to his preferred shirt number.
On Tuesday, he thanked fans for “the great affection shown to me and my family these last few days,” and said it had made it impossible “to reject the possibility of returning to play for Nacional.”
“Now we’re going to begin working on his arrival. We’re going to celebrate his arrival as he deserves,” said Fuentes.
– The biter –
Suarez, who left Atletico Madrid at the end of last season and still lives in Spain, began his career at Nacional, making his debut aged 18 in May 2005.
After winning two Uruguayan titles with Nacional, he moved to Groningen in the Netherlands while still a teenager and then on to Ajax a year later.
There he caught the eye of Liverpool and after three and a half seasons in England he moved to Barcelona for a fee worth more than 80 million euros.
He enjoyed his most successful spell in Catalonia, winning four Spanish league titles and the Champions League in 2015, while he won La Liga again with Atletico in 2021.
He earned notoriety at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa when his last gasp illegal goalline clearance in the quarter-finals against Ghana prevented the Black Stars from becoming the first ever African nation to reach the last four of the tournament.
Suarez was sent off for a deliberate handball but Uruguay survived the subsequent spot-kick and then progressed on penalties.
Four years later in Brazil he disgraced himself by biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini, for which he received a record nine-match ban from world football governing body FIFA — it was the third time he had bitten an opposing player.
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