After completing a controversial ban for biting an opponent during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Luis Suarez is all set to make his Barcelona debut in a grand manner. Suarez's return to competitive action, however, is not as anticipated as his fans.
Suarez, who is expected to play in the 'El Clasico' match against Real Madrid on October 25, is now facing stiff questions over his fitness after gaining weight. Barca's coach Luis Enrique though has rejected comments made by the media that the Uruguayan is 'overweight'. (FC Barcelona Target Ajax Boost Ahead of El Clasico)
"It's difficult to evaluate if he (Suarez) is at 70, 80, 90 or 100 percent but what is sure is he feels much better in training," said Enrique.
"We see him training every day, he's a player like any other and what's clear is that he's not fat," the 44-year-old coach and former player said.
Suarez made a move to La Liga giants Barcelona from Liverpool this season for 95 million euros and it all happened in the wake of a huge World Cup controversy that erupted when the Uruguayan footballer bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini during a match. Suarez was banned for four months and nine internationals.
Thereafter, Suarez has participated in friendly matches for both Barcelona and his country, and he scored two goals against Oman in a friendly international recently. However, Suarez has not been allowed to take part in official fixtures. Despite a long absence from footballing action, Barca coach Enrique is optimistic that Suarez can still have the same impact in games.
"He's been in a certain dynamic for a while and the fact that he has been able to play for his country has allowed him to rediscover the daily life of a footballer," added Enrique.
Barcelona currently lead the Spanish league after eight matches followed by Sevilla at second and Real Madrid at third, four points behind the leaders.
Suarez was recently given the Golden Boot award after becoming Europe's top-scorer during the previous season. He shared the honours with Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid. Suarez said playing at Barca was "a dream come true."
Is Suarez fit to play against Real Madrid straight away? "If you had asked me that a week ago, before the two games with Uruguay, I may have had doubts. But I have played in those two (friendly) games and I am probably in better condition than I thought I was. So I think I can say now, yes, 100 per cent, I am ready to play," said an optimistic Suarez.