12 July 2014 18:52
Barcelona are “convinced” that Luis Suarez’s four-month ban for biting will be reduced ahead of the new season.
The Catalan giants confirmed they had agreed a deal for Suarez with Liverpool on Friday, with the fee thought to be in the region of £75million.
Uruguay forward Suarez has attracted the scorn of the football world, having bitten an opponent for the third time in less than four years when he sunk his teeth into Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini during a group-stage match at the FIFA World Cup.
He was handed a four-match suspension from all football-related activity and banned for his country’s next nine competitive matches.
A subsequent appeal to FIFA has failed but the Uruguayan Football Association (AUF) are now set to take their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), and Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is confident Suarez’s club ban will be slashed.
“We are supporting the appeal being made by the Uruguayan Federation… and are convinced that FIFA’s initial sanction will be reduced,” Bartomeu told Barca’s official website.
“He recognised his mistake and Barca will be making sure he successfully reintegrates into the football world.
“Suarez will bring his top qualities as a footballer [to Barcelona], with goals and the desire to compete and win.
“We’ll all help him and his family to adapt quickly to Barcelona and the team.”
Bartomeu was also quizzed about further signings, with Barca seeking to replace the likes of Carles Puyol, Victor Valdes, Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez.
And he expects the club to be busy once the World Cup has ended, adding that defensive players were a high priority for new head coach Luis Enrique.
“The end of the World Cup will clearly revitalise the market,” he added.
“A lot of teams have been waiting until now to make their signings. Everybody was sure that that their player’s values could change in Brazil.
“We are focusing our efforts on finding what the coaches need, which as you know still means we have to sign some new players…probably in defence.”
“I’m excited about it, because this is the in-depth restructuring that we’d talked about. [Barcelona sporting director Andoni] Zubizarreta and Luis Enrique are working hard to make a team that can challenge for everything.
“The team is in good hands.”