LUIZ SUAREZ sensationally revealed he was pushed out by Barcelona… because of his close friendship with Lionel Messi.
The Uruguayan striker, 33, saw himself shoved through the Nou Camp exit door this summer.
He joined LaLiga rivals Atletico Madrid but reckons the Catalan giants wanted him out to weaken support of Messi, who himself was trying to leave.
Suarez told ESPN: "I think they wanted to remove me from Messi’s side.
"Maybe it annoyed them that I had a good relationship with Leo. Perhaps they didn’t want him to be with me so much.
"I can’t find any reason to think that would damage the team, though.
"We looked for each other constantly on the pitch, but for the good of the team. Maybe they wanted him to play with more team-mates.
"That could have something to do with it. I can’t find any other reason to want to separate us because we got on well on the pitch."
Suarez and Messi had a close bond on the pitch for Barca but it was off it they were particularly tight.
Their families spent plenty of time together both in Barcelona and on various holidays.
Messi took to social media to express his anguish at seeing his pal leave after six years.
And his wife Antonela reduced Suarez's partner Sofia to tears with her own heartfelt goodbye.
Unlike Suarez, Messi stayed put at Barcelona this summer, making a U-turn and deciding to see out his contract with the club he joined 20 years ago.
The ex-Liverpool front man, however, reckons the board should have honoured the Argentine's wishes.
He added: "They should have respected his decision to leave.
"Maybe there’s the possibility that he plays for another club, but if he feels comfortable and happy and a new board come in, he will want to stay at the club.
"As a friend, I will be happy if things go well for him there, but also if he has to go to another club."
Suarez is the third-highest goalscorer in Barcelona's history with 198 strikes after signing in 2014.
But he was left 'hurt' and crying by the way he was treated this summer and Ronald Koeman's handling of his situation.
The Atleti star said: "It really hurt me and my family the way they did it.
"It wasn’t right that a coach [Ronald Koeman] comes in and says he doesn’t count on me when the board had already said there were going to be big changes generates doubts.
"Koeman called me to tell me that I wasn’t in his plans, but I’d known what was coming for ten days. He just confirmed what I’d seen in the media.
"I always said the club needed a young striker, but they never brought anyone in to compete with me even. For years, they’ve wanted to bring more forwards because they wanted to kick me out.
"It had been coming but I at least deserved for them to phone me and explain before learning of it through the media."
Suarez did not take long to prove he still has plenty to offer in Spain's top flight.
Despite only coming on for the final 20 minutes in his debut against Granada, he scored twice and set up another in a 6-1 thumping.
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