Two Rejected Footballers Who Became Key For Their Team Last Season
The 2020-2021 season was full of surprises, particularly in Spain and Italy where the league champions broke years of jinx.
In Spain, league champions, Atletico Madrid, broke the deadlock after seven years, thanks to a transfer deal with Barcelona FC.
In Italy, Inter Milan who eventually emerged champions ended eleven years of Serie A title drought and the Juventus era.
Players like Luiz Saurez, an ex Barca player and Rumelu Lukaku, a former Manchester United Player were exceptional in Spain and England respectively.
Barcelona showed Suarez the exit door last summer, saying age was not on the side of the Mexican.
“What really bothered me was when they told me that I was old and I could no longer play at a high level… That’s what I did not like,” said the Mexican.
Diego Simeone’s side had spent €6m in the transfer which triggered a turnaround for his side.
Suarez, 34, was an out of favour option for the former Barcelona President, Josep Maria Bartomeu.
But Lionel Messi, who was the Mexican right hand man, had wanted Saurez at the Camp Nou.
“I think they wanted to get me away from Messi’s side, perhaps it bothered them that I have a good relationship with Leo,” said Suarez.
The duo ended the season with 30 and 21 goals for Messi and Suarez respectively.
The Mexican’s last goal in Laliga against Real Valladolid secured the title for his club at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Saturday.
“My tears were tears of happiness,” Suarez said after lifting the title.
“It was because of the situation, I’ll always be grateful to them because they’ve given me everything and allowed me to play at the elite level.
“But the president (Josep Maria Bartomeu) said everything he spoke to the press instead of calling me. When they wanted (Leo Messi) to stay, they called me to convince him. They called me to talk to (Antoine Griezmann)… so why couldn’t they have called me when they wanted me to leave?” He added.
28-year-old Lukaku has become one of the most prolific strikers in football after United exit.
The Belgian was no longer a regular starting berth for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and a decision for his exit was reached in the summer of 2019.
Lukaku who managed to net 42 goals in 96 games at Old Trafford later made a debut appearance for Inter Milan in the 2020/2021 season. He was sold for £74m.
Inter’s first ever Scudetto since Jose Mourinho won both Serie A and the Champions League titles in 2010 was guaranteed partly by the 24 goals scored and eleven assists delivered by Lukaku.
Antonio Conte’s Inter finished second behind Juventus during the 2019/2020 season. But the club finished only by a lone point behind Juve.
Just like Saurez, Lukaku was full of tears after the club lifted their first Scudetto since the 2009-10 season.
He scored the final goal during the 5-1 humiliation of Udinese at the San Siro.