This summer's Luis Suárez transfer saga has been all over the place, and reports now place the Uruguayan in MLS.
After two seasons at Atlético Madrid, Suárez became a free agent July 1 and it was time to look for a new club. Many suggested that a move back to South America would be ideal for the striker after a 16-year career abroad. However, with Qatar around the corner, Suárez preferred to remain in Europe to prepare for his last World Cup.
“My priority is to stay in Europe,” he said.
Having Suárez back in South America would be nostalgic and fun to watch, but let’s face it, there’s probably loads of options for the legendary striker to assess. Or are there?
Two months after becoming a free agent, no team in Europe has met El Pistolero’s demands.
After rumors of a potential reunion with Steven Gerrard and Philippe Coutinho at Aston Villa in June, suitors for the 35-year-old have become scarce and South America has come knocking at his door.
No Copa Libertadores? No River Plate
In early July, we saw reports that the former Barcelona man was keen on a move to River Plate. Even after declaring his wish to remain in Europe, Millonarios insisted the striker was actually considering signing.
But it was later revealed by Suárez himself that, following River’s Copa Libertadores exit, the possibility of him joining the club was gone.
“I was very excited with the possibility of going to River to fight for Copa Libertadores. It was a dream that I had to win a cup in South America” he said to Ovación. “But now that River has been eliminated that possibility is gone.”
So, with no convincing offers from any European team and River Plate out of the picture (and Libertadores), there was only one place for Suárez to go.
Back to Nacional?
Following rumors of a move to Argentina, Nacional fans took it upon themselves to seduce Suárez on social media. There was no real interest from Nacional to make an effort to sign the striker, and that surprised him.
“I am surprised that the people of Nacional didn’t even call me to find out my situation,” the Uruguayan said earlier this month.
This quote quickly spread around social media. Nacional fans created the #SuárezANacional hashtag that took over Twitter in hopes of convincing the team’s board and Suárez to negotiate.
De un lado hay un lote de ofertas, con cifras siderales, que encandilarian a la mayoría.
Del otro la enorme ilusión de la primer hinchada, el saber cuánto te quiere ver tu gente con tu camiseta.
Una decisión de leyenda
Que el amor sea más fuerte #SuarezANacional pic.twitter.com/8lWoRaA09F— Óscar Andrade (@Oandradelallana) July 25, 2022
— Ximena Fernandez (@Xime_984) July 21, 2022
— Mathi (@mathisierra) July 22, 2022
And it worked! After the marvelous social media campaign orchestrated by the fans, both sides began negotiations to bring the legendary striker back home.
Suárez’s brother, Paolo, even tweeted out an edited picture of the striker wearing Nacional’s home kit.
— paolo suarez (@psuarez80) July 18, 2022
The buzz and excitement ahead of his move back to the club was so big that the #SuárezANacional movement moved from social media to the stadium. In Nacional’s home game against Cerrito last Thursday, close to 20,000 fans wore Luis Suárez masks as their final call to action.
‘He doesn't arrive, he returns'20,000 Nacional fans wore Luis Suárez masks during a game on Thursday with the striker reportedly close to a return to his first club pic.twitter.com/IUZtBlkuRF
— B/R Football (@brfootball) July 22, 2022
However, following news of Sébastien Haller's absence from Borussia Dortmund's squad over the coming months, there were rumours of Suárez offering himself as a temporary replacement.
Luis Suarez has been offered to Borussia Dortmund as short term cover for Sebastien Haller! pic.twitter.com/NelGA62bIJ— 90min (@90min_Football) July 21, 2022
But the rumour was hard to believe considering Dortmund's reputation for signing younger players and with Nacional hovering.
When everything seemed to be finalized for the striker to go back to his boyhood club, a call from Suárez earlier this week asking for more time stalled negotiations.
“Why?” you might ask.
MLS is Hard to Turn Down
When all seemed finished, the negotiations with Nacional were placed on hold after an MLS club became interested in the striker.
El viernes Luis Suárez había tomado la decisión de venir a jugar a Nacional aunque nunca se la hizo oficial al Club. Ayer Suárez le confirmó a José Fuentes que tiene una propuesta importante y le pidió dos días para decidir. La propuesta sería de un Club de la MLS. #ÚltimoAlArco— Martin Charquero (@MartinCharquero) July 25, 2022
After what seemed like a strong link to LAFC, interest from New York City FC and Nashville SC may have shut down the possibility of Suárez playing alongside newly signed stars Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini.
#LAFC is not buying Luis Suárez, per sources.Sadly, the rumor mill must turn its attention elsewhere in MLS.
— Paul Tenorio (@PaulTenorio) July 26, 2022
New York City FC y Nashville SC a la carga por Luis Suárez . Nacional espera para mañana una respuesta del máximo goleador de la Selección Uruguaya. pic.twitter.com/1KHqGtYuMc— Franco Fernández (@FernandezSurkov) July 26, 2022
What is the Best Choice Ahead of the World Cup?
In terms of money, a move to the United States would land the striker a salary greater than what he's being offered in South America.
In terms of preparing for the World Cup, the league would be perfect for a player like Suárez. In recent years, we’ve seen players like Zlatan Ibrahimović, Chicharito and Carlos Vela arrive from Europe and put up good numbers. Gareth Bale, who also took the World Cup as a factor before choosing his next destination, found MLS to be the perfect place to do so.
However, after all the effort and love Nacional fans gave Suárez these last couple weeks, a transfer to MLS would be heartbreaking for the tricolores and everyone who loves a fairytale ending.