Hristo Stoichkov warns Luis Suarez
Former Barcelona forward Hristo Stoichkov has told Sport "the bites will be a problem" for Luis Suarez if he moves to the Camp Nou and warned that opponents and the media will try to provoke him into offending again.
Suarez is expected to join Barca from Liverpool in the coming days for a fee of around 80 million euros, despite currently being suspended from all football activity for four months for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini while playing for Uruguay at the current World Cup.
The 27-year-old had previously served two suspensions for biting at club level when playing for Ajax and Liverpool, and was also banned for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra during a Premier League game.
Ex-Bulgaria international Stoichkov, who was also a talented attacker who had regular problems controlling his temper on the pitch, said that Suarez was a gifted player but would be a 'marked man' in future.
"I have read about the transfer," Stoichkov said. "He seems a really good player to me, one of the best forwards, with the character required to play for the biggest clubs -- but the bites are going to be a problem!
"He is marked for the rest of his life. To play at Barca with what he has done is a problem. Every opponent and the referees and the press will make his life difficult. He will have to play with provocation and media attention, which will leave him in permanent tension."
LUIS SUAREZ BITE STORM
- FIFA bans Luis Suarez for four months
- PL chief: Suarez an accident waiting to happen
- No 'bite clause' in Suarez's Barca contract
- Toe Poke: Fan gets dodgy Suarez tattoo
- Thompson: Portrait of a serial winner
- Brewin: No sympathy for Luis Suarez
- Thompson: Uruguay comes to Suarez defence
- Marcotti: Suarez in another bite storm
Stoichkov -- who infamously stamped on the foot of referee Ildefonso Urizar Azpitarte during a match against Real Madrid in December 1990 -- said after that incident he faced extra provocation from both opponents and journalists.
"I made a mistake with the stamp on Urizar and what came afterwards was very hard," he said. "What is going to come to Luis Suarez will be the same. Opposition players will provoke you, they will look for violent reactions, try to get you out of the game.
"And if you are hot-blooded -- well, sometimes it takes a lot to control yourself. Plus, referees are more worried about your reaction than what they say to you. Every game is a psychological war. And then there is the journalism, which also puts on pressure so that you can make some good copy. It is not easy. You must be a bit special to live with that."
Stoichkov said Suarez should now concentrate on getting counselling to overcome his tendency to lose control on the pitch and let others focus on getting his ban reduced so he could return to play as soon as possible.
"I say to Luis Suarez that he should try and fix his problem, and fight to achieve his dreams," he said. "Now he can rest, free himself mentally from the mistake at the World Cup and think all will go well.
"It is clear that if he has bitten three times there is something that is not working and must be sorted out. I know he has already worked on his aspect, and must keep doing it because at Barca he will have to live under pressure 24 hours a day and, of course, he cannot make that mistake again. Now, despite everything, he must be positive. His agent and the lawyers can work on his punishment. I believe it will be smaller in the end."
Meanwhile, Gerard Deulofeu has joined a long list of Camp Nou figures to welcome the impending transfer.
"I believe [Suarez] is a very interesting player," the winger said in Mundo Deportivo. "For me he is one of the best forwards in the world. If it works out he would be a great signing."
Deulofeu, who is returning to Barca after a season on loan at Premier League side Everton, said he was looking forward to the challenge of fighting for a place in the first team despite the prospect of competition from Suarez, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Pedro Rodriguez and possibly Alexis Sanchez.
"Yes, these are the best players around, but I have a lot of confidence in myself," he said. "I believe in my chances, and that working day to day I can achieve my goals."