'I love you very much': Departing Suarez urges strike partner Messi not to let Barcelona enemies 'tarnish the giant that you are'
Former Liverpool forward Suarez ended a prolific six years at Barca on Friday, leaving behind his productive partnership with Messi, the club's all-time top scorer, to sign for rivals Atletico Madrid.
Messi had earlier expressed his dismay at the move, telling his Instagram following of more than 166 million that close pal Suarez, who he regarded as "one of the most important players in the club's history", had been "kicked out" by bosses at the Catalan giants.
Despite scoring a prolific 195 goals in 283 appearances for the Blaugrana, Suarez was allowed to join the Champions League quarterfinalists for a nominal fee of less than $7 million.
He reciprocated the adoration Messi had sent his way and gave fans a glimpse into the man he had shared plenty of time with off the pitch during the South Americans' time together at the Camp Nou.
"Thank you, friend, for your words, but thank you for being the way you are – for what you were from the first day with me and my family," Suarez told Messi, replying to his heartfelt social media swansong"
"I will always be grateful to Messi the human – funny and sentimental – because everyone knows the player."
He then hinted at the behind-the-scenes rancor that almost saw Messi leave the club last month and caused the likes of Neymar, their former colleague at the club, to criticize Barca's business dealings in his own reply to the post.
"Do not forget what I told you," Suarez warned. "Continue enjoying yourself and demonstrating that you're number one and don't let two, three or four [people] tarnish the giant that you are for the club and for the world of football.Also on rt.com 'You didn't deserve to get kicked out': Messi attacks Barcelona board in heartfelt message to departing Suarez
"I love you very much, my friend, and we are going to miss you five [Messi, his wife and their three children]."
Although it was not entirely clear who Suarez could be referring to, Messi is known to have been unimpressed with Josep Maria Bartomeu's leadership, clashing with the under-fire president after his transfer request was refused.
Messi is also said to have had a tetchy first meeting at the end of the summer with new Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman, while the Argentina icon also accused former sporting director Eric Abidal of disloyalty towards the squad earlier this year.
Ex-Barcelona player Abidal had claimed that the players lacked dedication, adding that he could "smell" disquiet in the locker room.
The saga revealed the internal turmoil that Suarez has now suggested is far from banished at Barcelona.Also on rt.com Luis Suarez leaves Barcelona training ground IN TEARS & for final time ahead of proposed move to Atletico Madrid (VIDEO)
Brazil star Dani Alves, who won the Champions League with Suarez and Messi at Barcelona in 2015, said the back-stabbing culture was a "reality which comes from long ago."
"It is only confirmed year after year," he said, having left for Juventus in 2016. "It is about respect and they do not know [about] that."
Messi took to Instagram again when he hit back at the interview with Abidal during a tumultuous 2019/20 season for the club.
“Honestly, I don’t like doing these things but I think that everyone has to be responsible for his acts and take responsibility for their own decisions,” he wrote.
"The people in the sporting directorate should also assume their responsibility and, above all, take ownership of the decisions they make.
“I think that when players are talked about, names should be given...if not, we are all being dirtied and it feeds comments that are made and are not true.”Also on rt.com Juve got to be joking: Police probing if Luis Suarez CHEATED Italian citizenship exam ahead of failed Juventus move