Barcelona star Luis Suarez has admitted that he was surprised to see Cristiano Ronaldo leave Real Madrid in the summer but stressed that it makes little difference to his side.
While Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone believes the Portuguese star’s departure for €112m (£100m/$130) in the summer has drawn his side on a par with Real, Suarez has refused to jump to a similar conclusion.
The Uruguay international has admitted he did not see the deal coming but at the same time believes Los Blancos should be respected just as they always were.
“Obviously it came as a little surprise because of how good things had gone for him in Madrid, everything he had won there and how Madrid had helped him grow as a player,” he told ESPN.
“So it surprises you a bit, but that’s football for you. One day you can say that you are happy where you are and the next day things may change. It’s a decision which must be respected, it was taken for a reason.
“But we are in the Spanish league and we’re competing against Real Madrid, Atletico, Sevilla, Valencia, Villarreal and all the other teams.
“We’re not competing against one player. One player can make a difference or can make a team better, but the reality is that we expect to be playing against the best Madrid possible, against the best Atletico and against the best teams and players.”
The former Liverpool man spoke of the pressure experienced at a top club and said that it can be difficult to find time to enjoy individual successes.
“It’s not that Barcelona players feel a lot of pressure, but being at Barcelona limits the possibility of enjoying the match you won on Sunday because on Wednesday you already have another one,” he confessed.
“And if on Wednesday you win a Champions League semi-final or a quarter-final, you can’t enjoy it because on Saturday or Sunday you have another game. It is the continuous pressure that you put on yourself to perform at an elite level.
“In the long run, you start to remember the good times. But many times you’re unable to enjoy the moment itself because you are competing at the top level of the game. But it’s also nice to live with that pressure because it enables you to live through incredible moments.”
Suarez expects to be back in action this weekend for Barca when they face Real Sociedad on Saturday.